Rescuers tirelessly search for 200 missing near Guatemala volcano

07 June, 2018, 02:25 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • People carry to the cemetery the coffins of seven people who died during the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego on June 4

View of the damage casued by the eruption of the Fuego Volcano in San Miguel Los Lotes, a village in Escuintla Department, about 35 km southwest of Guatemala City, on June 4, 2018. Meanwhile, the eruption that covered the area near the volcano with a mix of hot gas and volcanic flows and devoured whole communities on Sunday, resumed on Tuesday.

The search for bodies in mountain villages destroyed by the eruption was progressing slowly, officials had said earlier, given the nature of the terrain and the way the volcano released large amounts of boiling mud, rock and ash down the mountain.

No evacuation alert was issued before the volcano erupted on Sunday, said Sergio Cabañas, the director of Guatemala's disaster prevention agency.

Despite offers of worldwide help from the United States, Mexico and several Latin American neighbours, Guatemalan authorities have not made a request for foreign aid.

The manhunt is continuing as national disaster agency, CONRED, said nearly 200 people are still missing.

Why were so many people killed in the initial eruption?

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A deep layer of soot totally covered houses and trees in the town of El Rodeo. "We are talking about a tragedy, a national mourning", Guatemala President Jimmy Morales said.

The new evacuation order set off a panic even in areas that were not under it. Dozens of people could be seen walking down roadsides carrying children or a few belongings beside paralysed traffic in parts of Escuintla township south of the volcano.

"It is very hard for us to identify them because some of the dead lost their features or their fingerprints" from the red-hot flows, said Fanuel Garcia, director of the National Institute of Forensic Sciences.

Guatemalan authorities put the death toll at 69, but officials said just 17 had been identified so far because the intense heat of the volcanic debris flows left most bodies unrecognizable. "They are taking away our opportunity to say goodbye".

These funds will help "Guatemala Red Cross support 3,000 of the most vulnerable survivors for three months", they added. "There's a lot of people suffering right now because they lost their family, they lost their home, they lost everything they had, and there is a lot of people missing".

Explosions from the volcano can be as high as 656 feet, the institute reported.

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