Guatemalan Volcano Eruption Causes Deaths, Injuries and Travel Disruptions

11 June, 2018, 23:59 | Author: Myra Gill
  • A policeman carries an elderly evacuee in Alotenango Sacatepequez department 55km southwest of Guatemala City after the eruption of the Fuego Volcano

"It is very hard for us to identify them because some of the dead lost their features or their fingerprints" from the red-hot flows, said Fanuel Garcia, director of the National Institute of Forensic Sciences.

Rescue workers searched for survivors Monday (June 4) amid a desolate landscape of ash and mud after a volcano erupted near the Guatemalan capital the previous day, killing at least 65 people. They said more deaths are expected in the villages of Alotenango and La Libertad.

After an initial toll of 25 dead, it was revised upwards within hours as bodies were recovered from villages razed by the tumbling mud.

Cabanas said that the eruption also left 20 injured and affected more than 1.7 million people. A second powerful eruption followed at 6:45pm.

Among the dead were two children who burned to death as they stood on a bridge watching the volcano erupt, the AP reported.

Policemen inspect at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, June 5, 2018. "Our hearts go to the victims and their families". She still doesn't know where her mother or her sister are.

Garcia, from Los Lotes, said she escaped with the help of her husband.

The new eruption spread panic as residents fled areas that had not been under evacuation warnings.


"UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was deeply saddened by the "tragic loss of life and the significant damage caused by the eruption", and said the UN was ready national rescue and relief efforts".

President Jimmy Morales is considering declaring a state of emergency.

The volcano erupted previously this year, in February.

Bodies were so thickly coated with ash that they looked like statues, and rescuers were forced to use sledgehammers to break through the roofs of houses buried in debris up to their rooflines to try to see if anyone was trapped inside.

The Guatemala eruption stirred recent memories of Hawaii's Kilauea eruption, which terrorized Big Island on May 3. Hundreds were injured and many are missing.

Guatemala City's airport has been shut down due to ash on the runway, Guatemala's civil aviation authority said on Twitter. Pyroclastic flows (a mixture of gas, hot rock and volcanic matter) from the eruption quickly engulfed nearby communities El Rodeo and La Reunion.

Warning: Some of the images you're about to see in the video are graphic.

Planetary geosciences professor David Rothery of Britain's Open University in Milton Keynes told VOA that tiny rock fragments known as hot ash normally rise in the air and form a gas column, but in this case were too dense and ended up cascading down the mountain. "They can travel further, as well as much faster, than lava flows", said Rothery. This river, or pyroclastic flow, may not be glowing orange like molten earth, but it is undeniably the most deadly part of the volcano.

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