Published: Tue, June 05, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

At least 25 dead after volcano eruption in Guatemala

At least 25 dead after volcano eruption in Guatemala

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.

Three bodies lay partially buried in ash-colored debris from the volcano, which lies about 27 miles (44 kilometers) from Guatemala City.

Firefighters leave the evacuation area near Volcan de Fuego, or Volcano of Fire, in El Rodeo, Guatemala, Sunday, June 3, 2018.

Mr Garcia said only 13 of those bodies have so far been identified and the death toll was expected to rise.

Alotenango and San Miguel los Lotes are among the villages affected but the effects of the eruption have been felt as far as the capital, some 40km (25 miles) south-west of Fuego.

A truck is covered in volcanic ash spewed by Volcan de Fuego, or Volcano of Fire, in Escuintla, Guatemala, Monday.

The eruption showered sand and ash on coffee plants across as much as 6,890 acres (2,788 hectares), including close to the volcano's cone, causing an estimated loss of 0.91 percent of Guatemala's coffee production, the country's national coffee association said.

"There are missing persons, but we do not know how many", said Sergio Cabanas of Guatemala's disaster management agency.

"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. Temperatures in the lava flow reached 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Eddy Sanchez, director of the country's Seismology and Volcanology Institute.

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Soon, searing flows of lava, ash and rock mixed with water and debris were gushing down the volcano's flanks, blocking roads and burning homes. Firefighters said they had seen some people who were trapped, but roads leading to the area were cut by pyroclastic flows and they had been unable to reach it.

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

Guatemala's Fuego Volcano and Indonesia's Mount Merapi are both on the Ring of Fire, a 25,000-mile horseshoe-shaped area where several tectonic plates rub against each other.

Dense ash blasted out by the volcano shut down Guatemala City's worldwide airport, civil aviation officials said.

It was the 3,763-meter (12,346-feet) volcano's second eruption this year.

Guatemala City's global airport had been closed because of the risks posed to planes but was reopened mid-morning Monday after workers cleared away ash.

Presidents Jimmy Morales has declared a state of emergency in the departments of Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepequez.

The tremor struck around 105km (105,000 metres) south-west of Champerico, a port town popular with tourists on Guatemala's noth-west coast.

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