Published: Tue, June 05, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

More Than 60 Dead in Guatemala Following Volcanic Explosion

More Than 60 Dead in Guatemala Following Volcanic Explosion

Almost 50 people are still missing after yesterday's eruption, which also injured at least 20 victims and prompted the evacuation of more than 3,200 people, the AP reported.

Emergency crews in helicopters managed to pull at least 10 people alive from areas cut off by the flows.

Extremely hot flows of ash mixed with water and debris, blocking some roads and burning homes. A policeman wearing a blue surgical mask stumbled in the muck as he ran from a cloud of ash pouring down the slope behind him, Reuters photos showed. Inhaling ash or hot volcanic gases can asphyxiate people quickly.

A vehicle is partially covered with ash after Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupted violently, in Guatemala City, Guatemala June 3, 2018.

"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", he said.

She still does not know where her mother or her sister are.

"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.

Police block a route affected by the ash expelled by Volcan de Fuego, or Volcano of Fire, in El Rodeo, Guatemala, Sunday, June 3, 2018.

Disaster agency spokesman David de Leon said late Sunday the bodies were found in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes.

Her husband, Joel Gonzalez, said his father had also been unable to escape and was believed to be "buried back there, at the house". A group of residents arrived at the scene with shovels and work boots.

Some locals said they never learnt of the danger until it was upon them - and were critical of authorities.

Ash was falling on the Guatemala City area as well as the departments of Sacatepequez, Chimaltenango and Escuintla, which are in south-central Guatemala around the volcano.

The head of the country's disaster agency had previously put the death toll at 33, but warned it would go higher.

"It's a river of lava that overflowed its banks and affected the Rodeo village". "The government is good at stealing, but when it comes to helping people, they lack spark".

By Monday evening, the volcano's activity was lessening, and is expected to continue to diminish in the coming days, Eddy Sanchez, director of the seismological, volcanic and meteorological institute Insivumeh, told reporters.

The disaster agency said 3265 people had been evacuated.

Residents said they were caught unaware by fast-moving pyroclastic flows.

National Disaster Coordinator Sergio Cabanas said an undetermined number of people were missing following the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which is 44 kilometers (27 miles) from Guatemala City. Two of the dead were children who burnt to death as they watched the eruption from a bridge, officials said.

The volcano is some 40 km southwest of the capital, Guatemala City, and is close to the colonial city of Antigua, which is popular with tourists and is known for its coffee plantations. Aviation authorities there closed the global airport due to the potential danger to planes by the ash, the AP reported.

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