Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Guatemala's Fuego volcano claims lives in deadly eruption today

Guatemala's Fuego volcano claims lives in deadly eruption today

Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupted with deadly fury, but now more hazards threaten grieving residents.

A violent eruption of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala Sunday has resulted in an estimated 25 deaths, almost 300 injuries and travel delays and cancellations.

Earlier Tuesday, Guatemala began burying the few dead who could be identified after Sunday's cascade of lava, gas and rock fragments killed at least 72 people and covered nearby villages in thick layers of ash and mud.

It was the 3,763-metre volcano's second eruption this year.

Among the fatalities were four people, including a disaster agency official, killed when lava set a house on fire in El Rodeo village, Cabanas said.

The volcano expelled hot muddy material that caused the deaths, which included several children, in communities located on its southern slope, disaster agency spokesman David de Leon said. Almost 2,000 people are in shelters and more than 3,200 were evacuated from the areas near the volcano west of Guatemala City.

Eighteen dead bodies were found in San Miguel Los Lotes, another village near the volcano.

Search and rescue operations were suspended due to low light and unsafe conditions but were to resume early on Monday morning, he said.

More than 3,000 people were evacuated due to the eruption, which affected rural communities around the volcano as well as Antigua Guatemala, a colonial-era town very popular with tourists in the Central American country, he said.

Dozens of videos making the rounds on social media and Guatemalan TV showing widespread devastation.

Villages south of the volcano in the Escuintla department were affected, too, Cabañas 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", Lopez recalled.

"Not everyone escaped, I think they were buried", Hernandez said in a video released by CONRED, the government agency for disaster reduction.

It urged residents living near the volcano to evacuate immediately and warned residents of the towns of Chimaltenango, Sacatepequez and Escuintla to watch out for volcanic rocks and ash. The lava flows reached temperatures of about 1,300 degrees, according to Eddy Sanchez, director of the country's seismology and volcanology institute.

Dense ash blasted out by the volcano shut down Guatemala City's global airport, civil aviation said.

National Disaster Coordinator Sergio Cabanas said an undetermined number of people were missing following the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which is 44 kilometres from Guatemala City.

Guatemala City's Fuego volcano took place at almost 25 miles (i.e. 40 km) from the Capital's southwest, which is closer to the Antigua's colonial city that is well known for the plantations of coffee and tourists popularity.

The Volcan de Fuego exploded shortly before noon Sunday.

Volcanic ash has already stretched across a 12-mile radius, and winds could carry the cloud even farther, officials said.

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