Guatemala volcano eruption kills 25

Guatemala volcano eruption kills 25

The 3,763-metre volcano eruption caught residents of remote mountain hamlets off guard, with little or no time to flee to safety.

Among the fatalities were four people, including a disaster agency official, killed when lava set a house on fire in El Rodeo village, National Disaster Coordinator Sergio Cabanas said.

The country's disaster agency said Monday that the death toll remains at 25, though there are apparently people still unaccounted for.

Eighteen dead bodies were found in San Miguel Los Lotes, another village near the volcano.

Rescue operations were suspended until 5:00 A.M. (1100 GMT) due to unsafe conditions and inclement weather, said Cecilio Chacaj, a spokesman for the municipal firefighters' department.

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

One video published by news outlet Telediario, purportedly taken in the El Rodeo village, showed three bodies strewn atop the remnants of the flow as rescuers arrived to attend to an elderly man caked from head to toe in ash and mud.

Garcia said that the El Rodeo village in the southern department of Escuintla is practically buried under lava, adding that the scene is “quite delicate” as the lava flow hinders authorities from getting into the area.

A soldier takes a rescued child covered with ash to hospital
A soldier takes a rescued child covered with ash to hospital

"We were at a party, celebrating the birth of a baby, when one of the neighbours shouted at us to come out and see the lava that was coming", Lopez recalled.

Ash fell on the Guatemala City area as well as the departments of Sacatepequez, Chimaltenango and Escuintla. Eddy Sanchez, director of the country's seismology and volcanology institute, said the flows reached temperatures of about 700 Celsius.

President Jimmy Morales, who has declared three days of national mourning, was due to visit the disaster zone on Monday.

The eruption forced Guatemala City's La Aurora global airport to shut down its only runway due to the presence of volcanic ash and to guarantee passenger and aircraft safety, Guatemala's civil aviation authority said on Twitter.

The volcano is located some 25 miles (40 km) southwest of the capital Guatemala City and is close to the colonial city of Antigua, popular with tourists and known for its coffee plantations.

Wounded and traumatised survivors of the Fuego volcanic eruption in Guatemala are being rushed to hospital by the Red Cross, as urgent work continues to evacuate communities from the danger zone. "[I escaped] because we saw the lava was pouring through the cornfields and we ran toward the hills". The violent eruptions showered volcanic ash over nearby towns and spewed pyroclastic flows throughout the area.

Dramatic footage shows a woman emerging from the ashes of Guatemala's Volcán de Fuego saying that while she managed to escape, her entire family and neighbors were likely wiped out by a rogue lava flow. It shot gas, fire, and ash more than 15,000 feet into the air and spread ash in a nine-mile radius.

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