Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Guatemala toll rises to 73 after strong explosion

Guatemala toll rises to 73 after strong explosion

At least 99 people have been killed and almost 200 are missing after the Volcano of Fire erupted in Guatemala over the weekend.

"My cousins Ingrid, Yomira, Paola, Jennifer, Michael, Andrea and Silvia, who was just 2 years old", the woman said - a litany that brought into sharp relief the scope of a disaster for which the final death toll is far from clear.

The images show a town buried, almost obliterated, by Sunday's deadly volcanic eruption in Guatemala that's claimed over 90 lives.

View of the damage casued by the eruption of the Fuego Volcano in San Miguel Los Lotes, a village in Escuintla Department, about 35 km southwest of Guatemala City, on June 4, 2018. As of June 6, local officials report that 99 people are dead and at least 192 are missing.

Firefighters say the chance of finding anyone alive is practically non-existent 72 hours after Sunday's volcanic explosion.

The death toll stands at 70, but is expected to rise.

"The bodies are already charred". The searing hot volcanic material that covered communities near the volcano left numerous bodies unrecognisable so DNA testing or other methods will be necessary for identification.

More than 3,000 residents have been evacuated from the area and people have been advised to wear face masks.

Three days after the volcano's first eruption, search, rescue and recovery efforts still remain in effect for the millions of people affected by the blasts, with numerous small towns surrounding Fuego covered in thick ash and flowing debris.

The volcano, named the Volcán de Fuego (Fire Volcano), is one of Latin America's largest and most active volcanos, with an altitude of 12,346 feet above sea level at its peak.

The scenes of devastation were accompanied by heartbreaking stories of whole families that were devastated by the disaster - the biggest eruption from the mountain in four decades.

"Nobody is going to be able to get them out or say how many are buried here", Efrain Suarez said, standing amid the smoking holes dotting what used to be the village of San Miguel Los Lotes on the flanks of the mountain.

"We are ready when CONRED, as the governing body of emergency management, authorize us to make an appeal", the ministry said in a statement.

Authorities have not offered any estimate of how many people might still be missing.

President Jimmy Morales has been criticized on social media for passively waiting to react to offers of worldwide aid.

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