At Least 62 Dead After Volcano Erupts In Guatemala

Pauline Gross
June 12, 2018

Fanuel Garcia said there could be more deaths, but that is the number of bodies so far recovered, and so far only 13 have been identified.

Unlike the Hawaii volcano, which has destroyed homes with slow-moving lava, the Fuego volcano unleashed fast-moving pyroclastic flow - a nasty mix of ash, rock and volcanic gases that can be much more risky than lava.

A September 2012 eruption of the volcano saw 10,000 people evacuated, while another in February 2015 forced the closure of the capital's main airport.

A volunteer firefighter carries a child after the eruption of the Fuego Volcano, in El Rodeo village, Escuintla department, south of Guatemala City, June 3, 2018.

The volcano erupted shortly before noon (4am BST), with lava beginning to flow down from the mountain at around 4pm (11pm BST).

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. The remaining dead were found in El Rodeo and Alotenango, where a makeshift morgue was set up. Local media reported that almost 200 people remain missing.

David de Leon, spokesman for the disaster agency, said authorities had already evacuated about 300 people from nearby areas.

"The bigger issue with pyroclastic flows is they can be turned into volcanic mudflows (lahars) when the loose debris mixes with rain/river waters", he said.

Firefighters and members of the military are now involved in the search for missing people.

An estimated 25 people, including at least three children, have been killed and almost 300 injured in the most violent eruption of Guatemala's Fuego volcano in more than four decades. "I think they ended up buried", Consuelo Hernandez, an El Rodeo resident, told the Diario de Centroamerica newspaper.

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Workers told of finding bodies so thickly coated with ash they appeared to be statues. One of them, Pacaya, is just 20 kilometers from Guatemala City. Lopez said she still does not know where her mother or sister are.

In another video, a visibly exhausted woman said she had narrowly escaped as lava poured through corn fields.

"My mother was stuck there, she couldn't get out", said Lopez, weeping and holding her face in her hands. Three bodies lay partially buried in ash-colored debris from the volcano, which lies about 27 miles (44 kilometers) west of Guatemala City.

In the Guatemalan village of El Rodeo, heavily armed soldiers wearing blue masks to ward off the dust are standing guard over a community hit by a volcanic eruption that has killed at least 25.

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

Dozens more are missing, the country's disaster agency says. Some were critical of government officials. Images in the news media and on social media showed people and villages caked in ash.

Rescue operations were suspended as of nightfall because conditions were too unsafe to continue, officials said.

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The conical Volcan de Fuego reaches an altitude of 12,346ft (3,763 meters) above sea level at its peak.

Other reports by GizPress

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