At least 65 killed as Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupts

Leroy Wright
June 12, 2018

Guatemala's Volcan de Fuego - Volcano of Fire - erupted spectacularly Sunday, shooting a plume of ash and gas almost six miles into the sky and spreading ash and debris across towns and farms more than 10 miles away from the volcano.

Authorities fear the death toll could rise further because many people are unaccounted for.

The Volcan de Fuego, or "volcano of fire", exploded in a hail of ash and molten rock Sunday, blanketing nearby villages in heavy ash and sending lava flows down the mountain's flank.

Sacatepezuez television published images of a charred landscape where the lava came into contact with homes.

Police officers joining the search for vicitms run in San Miguel Los Lotes, a village in Escuintla Department, about 35 kilometres southwest of Guatemala City, on June 4, 2018, a day after the eruption of the Fuego Volcano.

Other videos show residents walking barefoot and covered in muddy residue.

"Not everyone was able to get out".

One woman told the Diario de Centroamerica that lava had poured through corn fields and she thought more people may have died.

The land left behind was still too hot to touch or to recover bodies from many places. Some 3,100 people have been evacuated from the area.

Amid darkness and rain, the rescue effort was suspended until early morning, municipal firefighters' spokesman Cecilio Chacaj said.

Trump and Kim Arrive in Singapore Ahead of Historic Summit
But one US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged: "The timing for all this is not very good at all". He says that we are the problem with tariffs.

Guatemala's disaster agency, Conred, issued a number of standard precautions, advising people to wear protective face masks, clean their rooftops of ash once the eruption was over and cover any food and water intended for human consumption.

Two children were burned to death as they watched the volcano's second eruption this year from a bridge, he added.

Rescuers in helicopters managed to pull at least 10 people alive from ash drifts and mud flows that were up to the rooflines of some homes, forcing first responders to use sledgehammers to break through the roofs to see if anyone was trapped inside.

At an ad-hoc morgue in the town of Alotenango, at least three bodies lay covered with blue sheets.

Guatemala's disaster agency said 3,100 people had evacuated nearby communities, and ash fall from the eruption was affecting an area with about 1.7 million of the country's 15 million or so people.

"This time we were saved; in another (eruption) no", said Efrain Gonzalez, 52, sitting on the floor of a shelter in the city of Escuintla, where he arrived with his wife and one-year-old daughter after fleeing the hard-hit El Rodeo community.

This volcano is probably the most active in Guatemala, according to the country's National Institute for Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology.

Authorities say they were closely monitoring the volcano after activity picked up around 6 a.m. Sunday.

According to reports, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is considering declaring a state of emergency in the areas most affected by the eruption.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER