Bodies found in plane wreck on Philippines' Mayon volcano

Rescuers have found the bodies of all four people on board a small plane which crashed into an active Philippine volcano last week.

Authorities on Thursday confirmed the deaths of the two Filipino pilots and two Australian passengers.

Search teams had scoured the slopes of the Mayon volcano since Sunday, when the aircraft wreckage was spotted about 300m (985ft) from the crater.

Teams now faced the challenge of safely retrieving the bodies, officials said.

Local Filipino authorities say they will investigate the cause of the plane's crash.

The Cessna 340 aircraft went missing on Saturday shortly after departing for Manila from a local airport several kilometres from Mayon, one of the Philippines' most active volcanoes that last erupted in 2018.

There's a danger of steam explosions and rock slides from the crater as Mayon remains under the second lowest in a five-tier warning system, according to state volcanologists' daily monitoring on Thursday.

Heavy rain can also wash down debris from Mayon's slopes, according to the bulletin. The volcano that's known for its perfect cone shape has been slightly inflated since 2020, scientists said.

The Australian government confirmed the deaths of its two citizens on Thursday. Simon Chipperfield and Karthi Santhanam had worked as consultants for Filipino power company Energy Corp.

The company also identified the pilots - Rufino James Crisostomo Jr. and Joel Martin.

Australia's foreign minister extended her condolences to the families of the crash victims.

"The families of those who we have lost will be grieving and I express not only our sympathy and condolences, but to say to them, our hearts go out to them in this time of great grief," Penny Wong said.

It was the second time in as many months that a Cessna plane went missing in the Philippines. The first fell off the radar on 24 January and had not been found.

Cessnas are commonly used in the archipelago nation for inter-island hops and pilot training.