(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)
Guatemala ‘fire’ volcano spews new hot mud
A hot flow of mud, ash and gas swept down from Guatemala’s Fuego volcano yesterday, after a new explosion in the morning interrupted disaster workers’ efforts in pulling out bodies from the brown sludge known as a pyroclastic flow that engulfed the village of El Rodeo.
The morning eruption also halted rescue efforts on the southern slopes of Fuego, Spanish for “fire.” The national disaster agency raised the death toll to 38 from 25 on Sunday, but it was unclear whether more bodies had been found or whether more people died in yesterday’s eruption.
The day after the volcano’s eruption, its biggest in more than four decades, residents in the capital Guatemala City woke to sweep ash from rooftops and streets. Technicians assessed whether the runway at the international airport was clear enough to restart commercial flights.
“The landscape on the volcano is totally changed, everything is totally destroyed,” government volcanologist Gustavo Chigna said on local radio.
A witness near the volcano said more people had been evacuated beyond an 8-kilometer perimeter from the site after the new explosion.
Fuego, one of several active volcanoes in the Central American country, is near the colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site that has survived several volcanic eruptions. The latest activity from Fuego is mostly on the far side of the volcano, facing the Pacific coast.
Around 300 people have been injured since the eruption on Sunday that sent columns ash and smoke 10km into the sky, dusting several regions with ash.
National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) shared a photo showing the flows of gas and mud sweeping down a mountainside and across a broad valley, engulfing a small village.
The Institute of Volcanology said the eruption on Sunday ended after over 16 hours of activity. The eruption of the 3,763-meter volcano sent ash billowing over the surrounding area, turning plants and trees gray and blanketing streets, cars and people.
Farmers covered in ash fled for their lives as civil defense workers tried to relocate them to shelters during the event.
“This time we were saved; in another (eruption) no,” said Efrain Gonzalez, 52, sitting on the floor of a shelter in the city of Escuintla, where he arrived with his wife and 1-year-old daughter after fleeing the hard-hit El Rodeo community.
Gonzalez was overwhelmed with despair, as two more of his children, aged 10 and 4, are missing.
They were trapped in their home, which was flooded with hot mud that descended from the volcano.
Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales and his government declared three days of mourning and a state of emergency for Escuintla, Chimaltenango and Sacatepequez, which must still be ratified by Congress.
Hundreds of personnel from the police, Red Cross and military have been dispatched to support emergency operations, Morales said.
The eruption is the second major one this year from the peak, following another that subsided at the beginning of February after sending ash towering 1.7km into the sky.