Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupts, several killed,…

Cheryl Sanders
June 12, 2018

Guatemalan authorities increased the confirmed death toll from the eruption of the Fuego volcano (or Volcano of Fire) to 69 as officials suspended the search until dawn on Tuesday.

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. Hundreds of rescue workers rushed in to try to tend to the badly injured and help anyone still alive, but they struggled to reach some of the rural villages.

At its peak, the volcano is 12,346 feet (3,763 meters) above sea level.

"It's a river of lava that overflowed its banks and affected the Rodeo village. There are injured, burned and dead people", Sergio Cabanas, the general secretary of Guatemala's CONRED national disaster management agency, said on the radio.

Flower-covered coffins of seven people, who died during the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which in Spanish means Volcano of Fire, stand in the main park of the town San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018.

Judy Bergen of Abbotsford runs a charity called Love Guatemala
Judy Bergen of Abbotsford runs a charity called Love Guatemala

More than 1,000 people were being housed in temporary shelters.

Search and rescue operations for the missing and dead have been suspended due to low light and unsafe conditions, and will resume early on Monday morning, he said.

AT LEAST 25 people were killed when Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupted on Sunday, belching ash and rock and forcing the airport to close, the country's disaster agency said.

Dozens of videos appeared on social media and Guatemalan television showing the extent of the devastation.

Flows of lava have reportedly struck at least one village, causing deaths and injuries. "When the lava was already here they passed by in their pickup trucks telling us to leave, but the cars did not stop to pick up the people", Rafael Letran said, a resident of El Rodeo.

"Not everyone escaped, I think they were buried", Hernandez said in a video released by CONRED, the government agency for disaster reduction.

Ash from the volcano fell on the capital city as well as the departments of Sacatepequez, Chimaltenango and Escuintla.

Three days of national mourning have been declared by President Jimmy Morales. Some ash reached the capital of Guatemala City about 25 miles away, forcing the closure of its global airport.

Workers and guests were evacuated from the La Reunion golf club near Antigua.

"We saw the lava was pouring through the corn fields, and we ran toward a hill".

Pyroclastic flow is a dense, destructive mass of very hot ash, lava fragments, and gases ejected explosively from a volcano and typically flowing downslope at great speed.

"Temperatures in the pyroclastic flow can exceed 700 degrees (Celsius) and volcanic ash can rain down on a 15 kilometer (9.32 miles) radius".

Disaster agency spokesman David de Leon says about 300 people have been evacuated from nearby villages, which are being blanketed by ash as fiery smoke billows almost four miles into the sky.

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