Published: Sat, June 09, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Death toll from Guatemala volcano eruption rises to 99

Death toll from Guatemala volcano eruption rises to 99

What was once a collection of green canyons, hillsides and farms was reduced to grey devastation by fast-moving avalanches of super-heated muck that roared into the tightly knit villages on the mountain's flanks.

Firefighters stated the possibility of discovering anybody alive amid the still-steaming terrain was virtually nonexistent 72 hours after Sunday's volcanic explosion.

Guatemala's disaster agency, Conred, issued a number of standard precautions, advising people to wear protective face masks, clean their rooftops of ash once the eruption was over and cover any food and water intended for human consumption.

"Nobody wants to go back there". "You have to be prepared, for the children", he said.

More than 3,000 people have been evacuated with more than 1,700 in shelters.

A deep layer of soot totally covered houses and trees in the town of El Rodeo.

Now, San Miguel Los Lotes is buried in what remains of these flows.

The village of Lucerna, normally home to some 300 families, has seen its population double in the last two days.

However the life they knew was gone.

The couple has been staying at a Mormon church in the nearby city of Escuintla and going to a morgue there to await news.

"This can serve as a tiny bit of consolation for the people", Diaz said. "Nobody is left there".

A dozen other families also arrived to search the homes.

Mr Quiche, a welder, returned to his town of El Rodeo after evacuating with his family. "More than 20 have disappeared".

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The 3,763-metre volcano erupted early on Sunday, spewing out towering plumes of ash and a hail of fiery rock fragments with scalding mud.

According to the Executive Secretary of Caritas Guatemala aid workers have been unable as yet to reach some of the most populous areas of the affected region and he fears the scenario could be even more catastrophic. In many places the ground is still so hot it can melt the soles of shoes.

The death toll had stood at 75 late Tuesday.

"I saw the children's bodies", he said.

In previous disasters wherein authorities decided there was no probability of discovering survivors and additional efforts to get better our bodies can be too troublesome, areas have been declared burial websites, the ultimate resting place of the victims.

Bodies were so thickly coated with ash that they looked like statues. These flows - a combination of ash, rock and volcanic gases - travel so fast during an eruption that it's impossible for anything to outrun them.

The army said it was assisting rescuers and bringing survivors foodstuffs by air and over land.

Vazquez had no explanation for how the dog survived while the people died.

Diaz said it can be a kind of "consolation" for the displaced, many of whom will never be able to return to their homes.

Scientists will have to rely on DNA to identify victims disfigured by burning embers and hot lava.

"When the lava was already here they passed by in their pickup trucks yelling at us to leave, but the cars did not stop to pick up the people", Letran said.

Urgent rescue missions are underway right now, but the hot terrain is making it hard.

According to Sanchez, Sunday's eruption is the most violent explosion of Fuego volcano since 1974.

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