Five dead as Philippine volcano erupts

Four foreign tourists and their Filipino tour guide were crushed to death when one of the Philippines' most active volcanoes spewed a giant ash cloud and a hail of rocks on Tuesday, authorities said.

Twenty-seven people, including at least nine foreigners, were climbing picturesque Mount Mayon when it erupted without warning, and bad weather meant some of them would have to spend the night on its slopes, officials said.

"It rained like hell with stones," local tour operator Marti Calleja quoted an Austrian woman who was among those injured in the ordeal as saying.

"The rocks that came crashing down on them were as big as dining (table) sets," he told AFP by phone.

Calleja said five foreigners and three of his Filipino guides had begun hiking up Mayon just a few hours before the eruption, which sent a thick column of ash 500 metres (1,600 feet) into the air.

A statement from the provincial government later said two German men and one German woman and a Spanish woman living in Germany were killed, along with a Filipino guide.

An Austrian woman, two Thais and three Filipinos were reported to have been rescued and taken to hospitals for treatment of bruises and suspected fractures.

Provincial governor Joey Salceda told AFP that while the volcano had calmed down, rescue helicopters were having trouble landing to pick up the rest of the injured due to heavy rain.

He said rescuers were forced to start climbing the mountain to reach all the injured, and it was unclear when they would be brought down.

Calleja said the foreigners paid about $100 each for an overnight adventure on the 2,460-metre (8,070-foot) Mayon, which is famed for its near-perfect cone but has a long history of deadly eruptions.

A six-kilometre (3.75 mile) radius "permanent danger zone" is supposed to be enforced around the volcano. But Calleja said the local government allowed people to climb when there were no signs of an eruption.

"Between 300 and 1,000 climbers go here during the peak season from May to August," Calleja said.

Salceda confirmed the arrangement, but said tourists hiking up should still inform the authorities beforehand.

"Mayon is just like any other mountain and mountaineers assume the same risk as anywhere. But while we allow them to go, they should notify us and seek our approval. In this case, they did not," he said.

Volcanologists described the eruption as a 73-second "steam-driven minor explosion" that was not expected to be repeated anytime soon.

Chief state seismologist Renato Solidum said people living around Mayon did not need to evacuate. He said the explosion was triggered when rainwater made contact with hot ash deposits on the crater mouth.

Residents in towns around the volcano said they were taken by surprise.

"It was so sudden that many of us panicked," Jun Marana, a 46-year-old bus driver and father of two, told AFP by telephone.

"When we stepped out we saw this huge column against the blue sky."

Mayon, about 330 kilometres (200 miles) southeast of Manila, has erupted dozens of times in recorded history.

In 1814, more than 1,200 people were killed when lava flows buried the town of Cagsawa. In December 2009 tens of thousands of villagers were displaced when Mayon spewed ash and lava.

The volcano also erupted in August 2006. There were no direct deaths caused by the explosion, but the following December a passing typhoon unleashed an avalanche of volcanic mud from its slopes that killed 1,000 people.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Sandigan OKs hospital stay for GMA co-accused
    Sandigan OKs hospital stay for GMA co-accused

    The Sandiganbayan has allowed a government official, accused with plunder along with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to undergo a medical procedure at a hospital tomorrow. The anti-graft court permitted former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Benigno Aguas to undergo a cardiopulmonary/endocrine clearance at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City. …

  • Sandigan recommends executive clemency for ex-envoy
    Sandigan recommends executive clemency for ex-envoy

    The Sandiganbayan has recommended executive clemency for a former Philippine ambassador to Nigeria who was sentenced to 52 years for malversation of public funds. The Sandiganbayan First Division found Masaranga Umpa guilty of misusing the Assistance-To-Nationals Stand-by Funds totaling $80,478.80 in 2007, but the anti-graft court said the former assemblyman from Lanao del Norte should be pardoned. …

  • Stargazing at the mall highlights Earth Hour
    Stargazing at the mall highlights Earth Hour

    It was a night of stargazing in 58 SM Supermalls all over the country last night as these establishments participated in Earth Hour, an annual worldwide movement encouraging communities and establishments to switch off lights for one hour to raise global awareness of overuse of non-renewable resources. The Philippines has been an active participant of Earth Hour since 2008. Last night, in the province of Bulacan, for instance, all parishes, diocesan institutions, schools and household …

  • Payanig privatization hit
    Payanig privatization hit

    BLEMP Commercial of the Philippines, Inc. (BLEMP) denounced the recent announcement of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to privatize the 18.4-hectare “Payanig sa Pasig” property. In a statement sent to The STAR, BLEMP lawyer Dennis Manalo said the PCGG has no right to auction the property because it has no valid title and is not in possession. The PCGG has not paid a single centavo in real property taxes for the property, he said. He narrated that it was in the early 70s …

  • New species of tarantula found
    New species of tarantula found

    Scientists from the Museum of Natural History (MNH) of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños have discovered a new species of cave-dwelling tarantula on an island off the coast of Quezon. The new species of the spider, Phlogiellus kwebaburdeos, was described in the recent issue of the Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology by MNH curators for spiders Aimee Lynn Dupo and Alberto Barrion along with their former student Joseph Rasalan. The tarantula was discovered by Rasalan during one …

  • Palm Sunday: Do not add to suffering of others
    Palm Sunday: Do not add to suffering of others

    As Christendom enters Holy Week today, Palm Sunday, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday called on the faithful not to add to the sufferings of their fellowmen. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA), said that while Palm Sunday is oftentimes remembered as the glorious arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, it also signals the start of the Holy Week that tells of His suffering, death and …

  • Miriam pushes tougher graft law
    Miriam pushes tougher graft law

    Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has filed a bill that would make public officials liable for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act even if they are elected to a fresh term or a new position. In filing Senate Bill 2716, Santiago sought to address what she said was the doctrine of condonation in Philippine jurisprudence brought about by the 2010 case of Salumbides vs. Ombudsman. “By merely asserting the doctrine of condonation, erring elective officials are automatically given a …

  • Phl hits back at China over sea infra work
    Phl hits back at China over sea infra work

    The Philippines assailed China yesterday for contesting Manila’s planned repair and maintenance works on some islands in the West Philippine Sea, saying they are “in no way comparable” to the Asian power’s massive reclamation activities which are in violation of international laws. “The Philippines’ possible undertaking of necessary maintenance and repairs on its existing facilities in the West Philippine Sea, over which the Philippines rightfully exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights and …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options