Published: Mon, June 11, 2018

75 dead, hundreds injured by erupting volcano in Guatemala

75 dead, hundreds injured by erupting volcano in Guatemala

National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred) chief Sergio Cabanas did not rule out the number of dead increasing, as there are "missing persons, but we do not know how many".

Guatemala's Volcan de Fuego - Volcano of Fire - erupted spectacularly Sunday, shooting a plume of ash and gas almost six miles into the sky and spreading ash and debris across towns and farms more than 10 miles away from the volcano.

More than 1,000 people were being housed in temporary shelters.

The death toll rose late Sunday with 18 bodies found in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes, disaster agency spokesman David de Leon said, adding to the seven victims previously confirmed elsewhere earlier in the day.

Rescue operations resumed Monday morning after being suspended overnight due to the risky conditions.

At least 65 people were killed when a volcano erupted in Guatemala, sending lava flowing into villages and leaving homes and roads blanketed with ash.

Dozens of videos making the rounds on social media and Guatemalan TV showing widespread devastation. El Periódico newspaper reported that lava wasn't initially expected to hit homes, but the lava flow quickly changed direction on a deadly path with nearby residents' homes and farms. "When the lava was already here they passed by in their pickup trucks telling us to leave, but the cars did not stop to pick up the people", Rafael Letran said, a resident of El Rodeo.

Ash from the volcano fell on the capital city as well as the departments of Sacatepequez, Chimaltenango and Escuintla.

President Jimmy Morales has announced three days of mourning. Lesser amounts of ash reached the capital of Guatemala City some 25 miles away, forcing the closure of its worldwide airport.

The volcano is located some 40 km southwest of the capital Guatemala City and is close to the colonial city of Antigua, popular with tourists and known for its coffee plantations.

Workers and guests were evacuated from the La Reunion golf club.

In another video, a visibly exhausted woman, her face blackened from ash, said she had narrowly escaped as lava poured through corn fields.

Kilauea's primary mode of destruction is lava, but Fuego has unleashed pyroclastic flow - a nasty mix of ash, rock and volcanic gases that can be much more risky than lava.

Volcan de Fuego, Spanish for "volcano of fire", exploded shortly after noon on Sunday.

The US Geological Survey defines a pyroclastic flow as a "chaotic mixture of rock fragments, gas and ash" that can reach temperatures of several hundred degrees Celsius and travel at a speed of tens of meters per second.

Guatemala's National Institute of Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology has warned local residents that there could be further eruptions.

Officials have advised people to wear masks as protection against falling ash in four of Guatemala's regions.

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