At Guatemala volcano, search halted as death toll hits 109

Leroy Wright
June 9, 2018

Explosions boomed from the 3,763-meter volcano Wednesday, unleashing a new flow of risky volcanic material and forcing the rescuers to suspend the search for victims.

Residents should stay away from the still-dangerous area, said David de Leon, a spokesman for national disaster management agency CONRED.

The family holed up in a house that heated up "like a boiler" inside, he said, then made their way onto the roof and then to the upper story of another, concrete home. The rebuilding task is enormous.

A firefighter holds a chicken rescued from the disaster zone near the Volcan de Fuego in Guatemala.

At least 109 people were killed and almost 200 remain missing, according to the most recent official toll. Their chances of having survived in the superheated pyroclastic ash storm are slim to none. They have not been heard from since the eruption.

At least 99 people were killed in the eruption of Guatemala's Fuego volcano, which buried several villages on its southern flank, authorities said Wednesday.

It said it chose to suspend the search now that 72 hours have passed. Rescuers, police and journalists hurried to leave the area as a siren wailed and loudspeakers blared, "Evacuate!"

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

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A group of police officers saw what the family was doing and came to lend shovels and help with the digging. Guatemala's president, Jimmy Morales, declared three days of mourning. "But here, since the people have nothing to offer him, he leaves this part as a burial ground", said William Chavez, a 29-year-old accounting student.

" We want to help them rebuild their homes, rebuild their lives and that takes financial help, takes teams of people to come as well, that's where North America and the North American church can help in an unbelievable way", he told CBN News.

At a shelter set up in a school in the nearby city of Escuintla, Nohemi Ascon, 41, waited Thursday.

Nohemi Ascon, 41, is the aunt of six children between the ages of 1 and 8 who died in Los Lotes.

She said other relatives are missing.

Sanders expressed condolences to the victims and said the US would continue to coordinate with the Guatemalan government.

In his words: "Nobody is going to be able to get them out nor say how many are buried here".

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