Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Volcanic Eruption In Guatemala Kills 25 And 'Buries' Three Villages

Volcanic Eruption In Guatemala Kills 25 And 'Buries' Three Villages

An estimated 25 people, including at least three children, were killed and almost 300 injured on Sunday, officials said.

Hundreds of people were injured when the Volcan de Fuego (Volcano of Fire) exploded shortly before noon on Sunday, spewing ash and molten rock over nearby villages.

The charred bodies of victims lay on the steaming, ashen remnants of a pyroclastic flow, as rescuers attended to badly injured victims in the aftermath of the eruption.

CONRED said the eruption has caused a column of ash more than 11 km above sea level, and generated strong rumblings with waves that caused vibration in roofs and windows at a distance of 20 km.

"Not everybody could leave - I'd say they were left buried", Consuelo Hernández, a resident of the town of El Rodeo near the volcano, told the local el Periodico newspaper.

Guatemala Volcano
The Volcan de Fuego or Volcano of Fire continues to spill out smoke and ash as residents evacuate from Escuintla

The head of the country's disaster agency, Sergio Cabanas, gave the updated death toll, but said rescuers using helicopters had pulled 10 people from areas swept over by a towering cloud of thick ash, mud or lava.

Drivers make their way through a light rain of volcanic ash, as the Volcan de Fuego erupts, in Guatemala City, Sunday, June 3, 2018.

When asked how many people are in her family, she responds, "We are plenty" before confirming she believes her family was buried entirely.

Some 3,100 people had been evacuated from the danger zone by Monday morning, with further evacuations planned.

Hilda Lopez said the volcanic mud flowed into her village of San Miguel Los Lotes, close to the mountain.

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Search and rescue operations were suspended due to low light and risky conditions but were to resume early on Monday morning, he said.

People flee El Rodeo village, Escuintla department, 20 miles south of Guatemala City, after the eruption of the Fuego Volcano on Sunday.

Dozens of videos making the rounds on social media and Guatemalan TV showing widespread devastation. Steaming lava flowed down the streets of a village as emergency crews entered homes in search of trapped residents.

"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", Ms Lopez recalled.

Volcan de Fuego, situated on the borders of Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepéquez, sent out an 8km stream of lava, with smoke and ash surrounding the area.

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Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said on Facebook that the national emergency system had already been activated. Guatemala City's La Aurora global airport have been shut down due to the presence of volcanic ash on the runway, which may cause an accident.

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

"Where we saw the lava fall, we ran to a hillside" to escape, she added. Temperatures of the lava flows reached as high as 700 degrees Celsius, making identification extremely hard.

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