Thursday, September 23, 2021

99 Dead as Guatemalan volcano’s moderate explosions, rumbling continue

An officer prevents a survivor from accessiong the disaster area in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala, 06 June 2018. The bodies of eight victims of the eruptions of the Fuego volcano were recovered by the search brigades in a community in the southern department of Escuintla, setting the death toll to at least 84. The bodies were found among the rubble of the community of San Miguel Los Lotes. EFE

Guatemala City, Jun 6 (EFE).- On Wednesday, the bodies of 24 people were sent to morgues administered by Guatemala’s National Forensic Sciences Institute (Inacif) in the provinces of Sacatepequez, Guatemala and Escuintla as recovery crews located them amid the ruins of various villages affected by the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego volcano in recent days, bringing the known death toll in the disaster to 99.

Search and recovery teams working in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes found the bodies of eight more people killed in the eruption.

Six of the bodies – three men, a woman and two children, all unidentified so far – were found in the ruins of a house in the village that was buried under thousands of tons of volcanic material.

The bodies of two other adults were also found in the vicinity, but after that reporters were removed from the area.

In addition, Guatemalan authorities said that a man identified as Concepcion Hernandez,who had been seriously burned in the eruption on Sunday, had died of his injuries on Wednesday.

The Volcan de Fuego volcano on Wednesday continued with its rumbling and moderate explosions after registering a powerful eruption last weekend, and Guatemalan authorities warned about the danger of avalanches on the mountain’s slopes.

A report by the Insivumeh vulcanology institute issued at 8 am Wednesday said that weak to moderate explosions continue within the volcano located some 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of the capital and a column of ash reaching up to 4,700 meters (15,400 feet) was rising over it.

A picture taken with a drone of the area affected by the Fuego volcano in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala, 06 June 2018. The bodies of eight victims of the eruptions of the Fuego volcano were recovered by the search brigades in a community in the southern department of Escuintla, setting the death toll to at least 84. The bodies were found among the rubble of the community of San Miguel Los Lotes. EFE

The institute warned that the explosions are causing avalanches on the slopes of the volcano, which is 3,763 meters (more than 12,340 feet) high.

Insivumeh also said that rain that has fallen in the area and the accumulation of material belched out by the fire mountain could cause sudden landslides.

“It’s probable that the first ‘lahars’ (volcanic lava flows) will be hot and will be transporting fine material similar to cement and rocks up to a meter (about 3.3 feet) in diameter and tree trunks ripped out by the flow affecting the communities located on the sides of ravines,” the agency said.

Insivumeh said that the volcanic activity is continuing and did not rule out new pyroclastic flows in the coming hours.

Meanwhile, in its latest report on Wednesday, the Conred national disaster coordinator said that 75 people – later raised to 99 – were known to have died amid the ongoing emergency, 44 have been injured, 12,089 evacuated and more than 1.7 million affected. Moreover, 192 people are missing in an avalanche and 3,319 are being housed in government-outfitted shelters.

Rescue brigades on Wednesday resumed their searches for victims and the missing.
The provinces most heavily affected by the eruption, with its pyroclastic flows and heavy ashfall, have been Escuintla, Chimaltenango and Sacatepequez, all of which have been declared disaster areas and remain on red alert.