Five people, including four foreigners, were killed while at least seven were injured when Mayon Volcano in Albay spewed ash and rocks Tuesday morning, authorities said.
Rafaelito Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense-5 director, said four foreigners and a local tour guide died in the “phreatic explosion,” which occurred near the summit around 8 a.m.
The fatalities include tour guide Jerome Berin of Malilipot and three German nationals whose names have yet to be ascertained, Supt. Renato Bataller, Bicol regional police spokesman, said in a text message.
Injured are tour guide Keneth Gesalva and his Australian ward Straw Vega, as well as tour guide Jorge Cordovilla and his Thai wards Udome Kiat, Utan Ruchi, Boonchi, and Benjama, Bataller said.
Alejandro said two Air Force helicopters were sent to the volcano and were still conducting search and rescue operations as of Tuesday afternoon, to locate the hikers.
Alejandro said his office has yet to receive information if the explosion affected people living near the volcano, which is geographically shared by Legazpi City, Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Ligao City, Tabaco City, Malilipot, and Santo Domingo.
“So far wala, ang report pa lang dito is ‘yung mga nag-tour doon, ‘yung umakyat,” Alejandro said.
Bataller said it is the first time since 1993 that Mayon Volcano acted up “without a warning.”
“Para itong ‘yung noong 1993 na nag-erupt nang walang kawarning-warning. Dati-rati kasi nagpaparamdam ito, may mga pagyanig kang mararamdaman. Noong 1993, bigla siyang nagbuga at mahigit 70 katao ang namatay,” he said. (John Roson)
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