Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupts in fury

Elias Hubbard
June 5, 2018

Fuego, one of several active volcanoes out of 34 in the Central American country, is near the colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site that has survived several volcanic eruptions.

Police officers carry a wounded man after the eruption of the Fuego Volcano, in El Rodeo village, 35 km south of Guatemala City on 3 June 2018.

It was the 12,346-feet volcano's second eruption this year.

In the case of Sunday's eruption in Guatemala, numerous victims were killed by the fast-moving pyroclastic flows, asphyxiated by the ash and dust or burned instantly when the flows finally caught up to them.

Steaming lava flowed down the streets of a village as emergency crews entered homes in search of trapped residents, another video on a different media outlet showed.

The death toll from Guatemala's Fuego volcano eruption has jumped to at least 62 people, the country's National Forensic Sciences Institute told The Associated Press on Monday.

"We are evacuating and rescuing people and have reports of 20 wounded, six dead and disappeared", said Cabanas.

Disaster agency spokesman David de Leon said late Sunday the bodies were found in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes.

Local search and rescue efforts were suspended on Sunday due to low light and risky conditions.

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

The eruption of Vesuvius, in Italy, in 79 AD produced a powerful pyroclastic flow, burying the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum under a thick blanket of ash.

Lesser amounts of ash fell on Guatemala City, which is 44 kilometers (27 miles) from the volcano.

Aerial images have captured the extent of the damage caused by the eruption of Guatemala's Volcano of Fire as the death toll continues to climb.

"We saw the lava was pouring through the corn fields and we ran towards a hill", Consuelo Hernandez, a survivor, told Al Jazeera.

At first, we thought it had started to rain but then I heard something hitting my safety helmet and I said to one of my colleagues: "This is not rain, these are stones!" Hours later, around 4pm (8am AEST), lava began flowing down the side of the mountain.

Lesser amounts of ash reached the capital of Guatemala City some 25 miles away, forcing the closure of the La Aurora International Airport.

Rescue workers walk on rooftops in Escuintla, Guatemala, blanketed with heavy ash spewed by the Volcan de Fuego, or "Volcano of Fire", pictured in the background, left center.

In the meantime, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has declared three days of national mourning, according to the BBC. There were explosions and ash plumes and a volcanic mudflow last month.

Eddy Sanchez, director of the country's seismology and volcanology institute, said the flows reached temperatures of about 700C (1,300F).

The stillness belied the chaos of the day before, as people fled in terror before a roaring wave of destruction.

It's also not safe to be on the fringes of pyroclastic flows, as burns and inhalation of unsafe gases are still possible, the USGS also said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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