Guatemala Fuego Volcano Eruption: Deaths Reported, People Missing Amid Lava Flows


According to a preliminary report from the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction of Guatemala (CONRED), the eruption is "the strongest one recorded in recent years". It is estimated that the eruption has taken lives of 25 people that also included no less than 3 children and injured around 300 people on Sunday. Hundreds of rescue workers rushed in to try to tend to the badly injured and help anyone still alive, but they struggled to reach some of the rural villages.

Temporary shelters have been set up for about 3,000 residents who have been evacuated.

So far, officials have announced the deaths were concentrated in three towns: El Rodeo, Alotenango, and San Miguel los Lotes.

Earlier in the day Guatemalan authorities had reportedly suspended rescue operation in the distressed area due to the foul weather conditions and decreased eruption activity.

"Unfortunately El Rodeo was buried and we haven't been able to reach the La Libertad village because of the lava and maybe there are people that died there too", Sergio Cabanas, the national disaster coordinator, said.

"We were at a party, celebrating the birth of a baby, when one of the neighbours shouted at us to come out and see the lava that was coming", Ms Lopez recalled.

Ms Lopez's husband, Joel Gonzalez, said his father had been unable to escape and was believed to be "buried back there, at the house".

Volcan de Fuego, situated on the borders of Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepéquez, sent out an 8km stream of lava, with smoke and ash surrounding the area.

The director of the country's seismology and volcanology institute, Eddy Sanchez, said the lava had hit temperatures in the region of 700C.

A woman mourns her missing relatives
ReutersA woman mourns her missing relatives

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said he would issue a declaration of a state of emergency to be approved by Congress and urged people to heed warnings from emergency officials.

The death toll from the eruption of Guatemala's Volcano of Fire has risen dramatically as rescuers use heavy machinery and shovels to frantically search deep ash drifts and mud flows.

The active volcano is located some 25 miles (40 km) southwest of the capital Guatemala City and is close to the colonial city of Antigua, popular with tourists and known for its coffee plantations.

Workers and guests were evacuated from La Reunion golf club near Antigua as a black cloud of ash rose from just beyond the club's limits. "We saw the lava was pouring through the corn fields and we ran towards a hill".

Pyroclastic flow is a dense, destructive mass of very hot ash, lava fragments, and gases ejected explosively from a volcano and typically flowing downslope at great speed.

In Guatemala, pyroclastic flow from Sunday's eruption topped 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1,000 degrees Celsius), CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera said.

Officials have advised people to wear masks as protection against falling ash.

"It arrived in communities right when the evacuation alerts were being generated", Conred spokesman David de Leon said.

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