Hundreds of villagers flee from Philippine volcano

Hundreds of villagers fled to safety Sunday after a volcano in the central Philippines belched smoke and ash high into the sky, rousing many from their sleep, officials said.

Despite Mount Bulusan's ash explosion, its sixth in recent weeks, there was no danger of an imminent eruption, government volcanologists said.

Hundreds of villagers fled their homes in the towns of Irosin and Juban by foot and in army trucks as Bulusan shot a plume of grayish smoke and ash more than a mile (two kilometers) into the sky for nine minutes, regional disaster-response official Raffy Alejandro said.

"Aside from the ash explosion, there were rumbling sounds so many got scared," Alejandro said.

The mountain in Sorsogon province calmed down after the spectacle and villagers were expected to return home from two evacuation centers, he said.

Bulusan, one of the country's 23 active volcanoes, is about 240 miles (380 kilometers) southeast of Manila.