More evacuations after Guatemala volcano erupts again

Adjust Comment Print

What was once a collection of verdant canyons, hillsides and farms resembled a moonscape of ash, rock and debris on Tuesday in the aftermath of the fast-moving avalanche of super-heated muck that roared into the tightly knit villages on the mountain's flanks, devastating entire families.

Police officers rescued the baby girl from her home that was covered in ash after Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupted, leaving at least 75 dead.

In the first few hours, the ash and mud was so hot, rescuers had a hard time reaching victims and by the time they made it out to some of them it was too late.

People carry the coffin of three-year-old Jennifer Andrea Morales who died during the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which in Spanish means Volcano of Fire, as villagers carry seven bodies to the cemetery in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala, on Monday.

Sunday's eruption was the most violent in more than a century. Rescuers were evacuated from those areas with the new flows Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile Guatemalan authorities confirmed the death toll from Sunday's eruption of the Volcano of Fire at 69, but said only 17 of the dead have been identified so far.

It is feared that the number of victims can rise substantially since 192 people still remain unaccounted for. Some homes were buried to their roof lines in ash.

No evacuation alert was issued before the volcano erupted on Sunday, said Sergio Cabañas, the director of Guatemala's disaster prevention agency.

The search for bodies in mountain villages destroyed by the eruption was progressing slowly, officials said earlier, given the nature of the terrain and the way the volcano released large amounts of boiling mud, rock and ash down the mountain. Numerous victims are unrecognisable, with officials warning that DNA testing and other methods may be needed to identify them.

On June 3, the volcano spewed black smoke, ash and an 8-km stream of red hot lava in its second eruption of 2018.

The searing hot volcanic material that covered communities near the volcano left numerous bodies unrecognisable so DNA testing or other methods will be necessary for identification.

A spokesman for Guatemala's firefighters, said that once it reaches 72 hours after the eruption, there will be little chance of finding anyone alive.