Guatemala volcano: nearly 200 missing and 75 dead

Howard TerryJun 09, 2018

"The conditions are extremely critical at this moment", Eddy Sanchez, director of Guatemala's National Institute of Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology, said. "But here, since the people have nothing to offer him, he leaves this part as a burial ground", said William Chavez, a 29-year-old accounting student. Homes were buried to the roofline by ash and mud.

Rescue workers look for remains at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano at El Rodeo in Escuintla, Guatemala June 6, 2018.

Diego Lorenzana said: "We can only work in areas where we can stand on the roofs of houses because the ash is very hot".

Thousands of people displaced by disaster have been forced to move into shelters, and many of them have loved ones who have died or are unaccounted for.

Today, it was clear that the official death toll was sure to climb and fears spread that anyone still stuck in the buried houses was dead and would remain entombed there. He said it was not immediately clear if some of those could be among the unidentified bodies. The searing hot volcanic material that covered communities near the volcano left numerous bodies unrecognizable so DNA testing or other methods will be necessary for identification.

Guatemalan prosecutors ordered an investigation into whether emergency protocols were followed properly, as many residents were caught with little or no time to evacuate.

Sirens from emergency vehicles filled the air Tuesday as rescuers were withdrawn from the hardest hit communities because of new flows of super-heated volcanic material.

The Fuego eruption is said to have been the biggest in more than 40 years, forcing Guatemala's global airport to close. "The second round of eruptions in the last 24 hours is contributing to a rising death toll and 1.7 million people are now affected by the disaster".

The death toll locally on Wednesday morning was 75, though this was expected to be revised upwards during the day. Rescuers, police and journalists hurried to leave the area as a siren wailed and loudspeakers blared, "Evacuate!" One More Child's Vice President Andrew Tattrie said members have been keeping the organization up to date with what's happening.

Explosions boomed from the 3,763-metre volcano Wednesday, unleashing a new flow of risky volcanic material and forcing the rescuers to suspend the search for victims, Xinhua news agency reported.

A short video posted by the agency showed a steady flow of traffic away from the volcano to the sound of a blaring alarm.

The superheated flow of volcanic gases and mud sweeps along boulders and tree trunks.

The Colima volcano is one of the most active in Mexico and in the last days its activity has intensified. Some of the eruptions sent an ash plume 16,000 feet into the sky.

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