7 killed in Guatemala volcano eruption, over 1 mn residents affected


Guatemala City, June 4 (IANS) At least seven people have died, 20 others injured and 1.7 million have been affected by the eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano, the most violent in recent years, according to government authorities.

Four people, including an officer of the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred), were killed in a house while trying to evacuate following the eruption on Sunday, while the other three died of severe burns in the Las Lajas ravine, reports Efe news.

Among the injured are 12 children, four of which suffered third-degree burns.

The volcano, whose name means fire, is one of Central America’s most active. It is located near the colonial city of Antigua.

Conred secretary Sergio Garcia said that the El Rodeo village in the southern department of Escuintla is practically buried under lava, adding that the scene is “quite delicate” as the lava flow hinders authorities from getting into the area.

An undetermined number of people are missing and about 3,100 people have been evacuated, Garcia said, noting that authorities still continue to assess the damage caused by the eruption of the 3.763-metre-high Fuego volcano.

An orange, or prevention, alert has been declared nationwide, while the departments of Escuintla, Chimaltenango and Sacatepequez located near the volcano remain on red alert.

The ash released by the colossus reached 10,000 metres above sea level, and according to the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology (INSIVUMEH), this eruption, the second of the year, is the strongest in recent years.

Explosions are still coming from the volcano, said Eddy Sanchez, director of the INSIVUMEH.

He warned of mudslides as rainfall continues, and urged people to stay off roads close to the volcano.

La Aurora International Airport remains closed as a preventive measure because the runway was covered with volcanic ash.