GUATEMALA CITY: Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupted with deadly fury, but now more hazards threaten grieving residents.
At least 25 people were killed after the volcano erupted Sunday, spewing a river of lava and plumes of smoke almost 6 miles into the air, said CONRED, the government agency for disaster reduction.
Another 15 people have been hospitalized, including 12 children — some of whom suffered severe burns, the health ministry said.
Volcanic ash had spread in a 12-mile radius and winds could carry the cloud even farther, officials said. neighbourhoods were covered with ash.
Survivor Consuelo Hernandez told the disaster agency some of her relatives were buried. Images from the scene showed a firefighter weeping.
“Not everyone escaped, I think they were buried,” Hernandez said in a video released by CONRED. “We saw the lava was pouring through the corn fields, and we ran toward a hill.”
Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales has declared three days of national mourning.
More than 3,100 people have been evacuated while search and rescue efforts stretched overnight, said Sergio García Cabañas, director of the disaster agency. More than 1.7 million people have been affected by the eruption, according to CONRED.
Authorities urged residents living near the volcano to evacuate immediately and warned some in Chimaltenango, Sacatepequez and Escuintla state to watch out for volcanic rocks and ash.
Residents were told to avoid roads close to the volcano and make sure water is not contaminated.
The eruption officially ended late Sunday, according to Guatemala’s National Institute of Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology.
“The eruption … is reaching its end with 14.763 feet of ash and weak-to-moderate explosions and incandescence in its crater,” it said in a statement.
But it warned there could be new eruptions, and residents in the surrounding areas should be on alert for mudslides containing volcanic material.