Philippines: Mayon Volcano Eruption Kills Five

Five climbers have been killed after one of the Philippines' most active volcanoes erupted - leaving more than a dozen others trapped.

Rescue teams and helicopters were sent to the centre of the country as huge rocks and ash began pouring out of Mayon volcano early on Tuesday morning.

Albay provincial Governor Joey Salceda said at least seven people from a group of around 20 mountaineers were injured after being caught by surprise by the sudden eruption.

Ash rises after a mild eruption of Mayon Volcano in Legazpi city in central Philippines May 7, 2013. Four people, …

Clouds have cleared over the volcano, which was quiet later in the morning.

Guide Kenneth Jesalva told ABS-CBN TV network the climbers who died - including a German, an Austrian and a Filipino - were struck by huge rocks.               

He said he was in the group that spent the night on the picturesque mountain, known for its almost-perfect cone, when the volcano rumbled back to life and rocks "as big as a living room" came raining down on them - before he rushed back to the base camp to call for help.Graphic showing the Philippines' Mount Mayon, which spewed a giant ash cloud on Tuesday

Eduardo del Rosario, chief of the national disaster agency, said the injured included foreigners and Filipino guides, with some in a critical condition.

The head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Renato Solidum, said the eruption was normal for the restive Mayon, about 212 miles southeast of the capital Manila.

It has erupted around 40 times during the last 400 years.

It last erupted in 2010, when thousands of residents moved to temporary shelters when the volcano ejected ash across a five-mile zone surrounding the crater.

Mr Solidum said no alert was raised for the volcano following the latest eruption and no evacuation was being planned.

Climbers are not allowed when an alert is up, and it is thought the recent calm may have encouraged this week's trek.