Mark Abadi and Rosie Perper
June 6, 2018
At least 99 people have been killed following eruptions at a volcano southwest of Guatemala’s capital.
The eruptions began on Sunday and sent lava pouring into nearby areas and shooting ash 6 miles into the sky.
Hundreds have been injured, and thousands of people have fled to temporary shelters.
Volcan del Fuego had already erupted once this year, and it is one of the most active volcanoes in Central America.
Guatemala’s National Institute of Forensic Sciences said Wednesday at least 99 people have been killed following eruptions at a volcano southwest of Guatemala’s capital, which sent lava pouring into nearby areas and shooting ash 6 miles into the sky.
Hundreds more people were injured as a result of the eruptions, which began on Sunday and occurred again Tuesday. Thousands of people have fled to temporary shelters.
The volcano, one of the most active in Central America, is located 27 miles southwest of Guatemala City, about 10 miles from the popular tourist destination of Antigua Guatemala. More than 1.7 million people in nearby communities are affected by the eruption, national disaster reduction squad CONRED said. Local media reported that nearly 200 people remain missing.
The alert level was raised to red in nearby cities and towns of Escuintla, Alotenango, Sacatepéquez, Yepocapa and Chimaltenango on Tuesday. An Orange alert continues to be issued at an institutional level.
Officials said the casualties occurred mainly in the towns of El Rodeo, Alotenango, and San Miguel los Lotes.
“Unfortunately El Rodeo was buried and we haven’t been able to reach the La Libertad village because of the lava and maybe there are people that died there too,” Sergio Cabanas, the national disaster coordinator, said.
CONRED said over 3,000 people in the areas close to the volcano have already been evacuated. Most villages near the base of the volcano have been covered in mud and ash.
This is the third time Volcan del Fuego has erupted this year, but officials have said these are the most violent eruptions to occur in decades.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said on Facebook that the national emergency system had already been activated.
Video on social media from Sunday shows lava and smoke billowing from the volcano. People were seen covered in ash, fleeing the scene by foot.