By Dale Western on 07 May 2013

7 May 2013 Last updated at 04:52 GMT

A volatile volcano has erupted in the Philippines, with at least five people reported dead. Mount Mayon has erupted dozens of times since records began.

Philippine Volcano Mount Mayon 300X225Mount Mayon, 330km (206 miles) south-east of the capital Manila, sent a cloud of ash and rocks into the sky early on Tuesday. The ash blast caught a group climbing the mountain, which is famous for its near-perfect cone. At least seven other climbers were hurt in the eruption, reports from guides on the mountain said.

"Five killed and seven are injured, that is the latest report," National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chief Eduardo del Rosario said.

"We do not have the identity of those killed or injured, whether they are foreigners or locals."

A rescue team was on its way to the mountain to verify the reports, he said. A guide on the mountain told a local television station by telephone that those who died were hit by rocks that rained down on them after the ash blast. Local reports said about 20 people were climbing the mountain when the eruption occurred.

In an advisory, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology called the eruption a "small phreatic event" that lasted about 73 seconds and sent ash 500m into the air. No intensification of volcanic activity was observed, it said, and the alert level would not be raised.

But it said small steam and ash ejections could occur with little or no warning and advised against entry to the 6-km (4-mile) radius Permanent Danger Zone around the volcano.

Mt Mayon has erupted at least 48 times since records began. The most violent eruption, in 1814, killed more than 1,200 people and devastated several towns. The most recent eruption was in late 2009, when tens of thousands of local residents were forced to evacuate as the volcano rumbled back to life.

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