Quantcast
Connect with us

Toll rises in Guatemala volcano as more bodies recovered

Published

on

Rescue workers pulled more bodies Monday from under the dust and rubble left by an explosive eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano, bringing the death toll to at least 69.

Of them, 17 have been identified so far, said Fanuel Garcia, head of the National Institute of Forensic Sciences.

In addition, there are 46 people injured, most of them seriously, more than 1.7 million being hit by the disaster, including 3,271 ordered evacuated and 1,787 in shelters in the departments of Escuintla, Sacatepequez and Chimaltenango since Sunday’s eruption.

ADVERTISEMENT

The 3,763-meter (12,346-foot) volcano erupted early Sunday, spewing out towering plumes of ash and a hail of fiery rock fragments with scalding mud.

Authorities had warned the death toll could rise after searches resumed for survivors in communities on the mountain’s southern flank.

After an initial toll of 25 dead, it was revised upwards within hours as bodies were recovered from villages razed by the tumbling mud.

AFP / Patrice DeréWhat happens in a volcanic eruption

“There are missing persons, but we do not know how many,” said Sergio Cabanas of Guatemala’s disaster management agency. A roll call of communities on the slopes of the volcano was under way.

The speed and ferocity of the eruption took mountain communities by surprise, with many of the dead found in or around their homes.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cabanas said those who were killed had been overrun by fast-moving burning material discharged by the volcano Sunday. Communities located on its southern slope were the worst hit. Several of the dead were children.

An AFP journalist saw at least three bodies burned in the rubble of the village of San Miguel Los Lotes, where rescue workers, soldiers and police were desperately searching for survivors.

Dead dogs, chickens and ducks also lay among the mud and ash, much of it still smoking.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I do not want to leave, but go back, and there is nothing I can do to save my family,” a weeping Eufemia Garcia, 48, told AFP. She was searching for her three children, her mother, nephews and siblings.

AFP / Johan ORDONEZA police officer carries a chicken in the ash-covered village of San Miguel Los Lotes, in Escuintla Department, about 35 km southwest of Guatemala City, on June 4, 2018, a day after the eruption of the Fuego Volcano

Garcia, from Los Lotes, said she escaped with the help of her husband.

ADVERTISEMENT

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was deeply saddened by the “tragic loss of life and the significant damage caused by the eruption,” and said the UN was ready to assist national rescue and relief efforts.

– National mourning –

President Jimmy Morales, who has declared three days of national mourning, visited the disaster zone.

ADVERTISEMENT

AFP / Johan ORDONEZA local resident and rescuers search for victims in San Miguel Los Lotes, a village in Escuintla Department, about 35 km southwest of Guatemala City, on June 4, 2018, a day after the eruption of the Fuego Volcano

“The volcano has erupted before, but never like this,” said Gustavo Larius, a 27-year-old bricklayer searching the streets of his village for missing family and friends, a handkerchief pressed over his mouth and nose.

The eruption sent ash billowing over the surrounding area, turning plants and trees gray and blanketing streets, cars and people.

Farmers covered in ash fled for their lives as civil defense workers tried to relocate them to shelters.

“This time we were saved; in another (eruption) no,” said Efrain Gonzalez, 52, sitting on the floor of a shelter in the city of Escuintla, where he arrived with his wife and one-year-old daughter.

ADVERTISEMENT

Gonzalez was overwhelmed with despair, as two more of his children, aged 10 and four, are missing. They were trapped in their home, which was flooded with hot mud that descended from the volcano.

Dense ash blasted out by the volcano shut down Guatemala City’s international airport, civil aviation officials said.

The eruption ended after 16.5 hours, but “there is a likelihood that it will reactivate” warned the Institute of Volcanology.

– Surprising speed –

ADVERTISEMENT

The speed of the eruption took locals by surprise, and could be explained by it producing pyroclastic flows, sudden emissions of gas and rock fragments, rather than lava, said volcanologist David Rothery of Britain’s Open University.

“A lava flow rarely travels fast enough to engulf people,” he said.

“The videos and still images I’ve seen suggest instead one or more pyroclastic flows. This is when a violently erupted mass of rock fragments and hot gas finds itself too dense to rise as an ash column and instead cascades down the volcano’s slopes.

“Pyroclastic flows or surges can move at over 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour, and may be hot enough to glow like molten lava. They can travel further, as well as much faster, than lava flows,” said Rothery.

Fuego has been erupting since 2002, and was continuously active in 2017. There were explosions and ash plumes and a volcanic mudflow last month.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Joni Ernst accused of involvement in ‘dark money’ re-election scheme: report

Published

on

According to a report from the Associated Press, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) has been accused of illegally working with an outside group to help her re-election prospects in a tough 2020 fight with Donald Trump on the ballot.

According to AP: "An outside group founded by top political aides to Sen. Joni Ernst has worked closely with the Iowa Republican to raise money and boost her reelection prospects, a degree of overlap that potentially violates the law."

'Iwa Values, a political nonprofit that is supposed to be run independently, was co-founded in 2017 by Ernst’s longtime consultant, Jon Kohan. It shares a fundraiser, Claire Holloway Avella, with the Ernst campaign," the report continued. "And a condo owned by a former aide — who was recently hired to lead the group — was used as Iowa Values’ address at a time when he worked for her."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Mike Pompeo under increasing scrutiny as as Trump impeachment ramps up: report

Published

on

On Saturday, WVAS Radio's Scott Simon profiled Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — and how the impeachment investigation is shaping his political situation.

"As the impeachment inquiry against President Trump continues its march through Congress, questions are churning around his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo," wrote Simon. "For example, did he know, as witnesses testified before House investigators, that President Trump sought political favors from Ukraine in exchange for millions in U.S. assistance? Why did he take days to reveal he was on the now infamous July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy? And does he believe allies of the president who — despite the findings of the intelligence community — claim that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election?"

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

Mitch McConnell’s effort to sabotage Trump impeachment could hit this brick wall

Published

on

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his GOP allies have signaled that they might pass a highly partisan set of rules designed to sabotage an impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, which might include everything from time limits on Democrats trying to submit evidence, to a parallel public investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden to make Trump's Ukraine behavior look legitimate.

But on MSNBC's "AM Joy," justice and security analyst Matthew Miller walked host Joy Reid through how difficult such a package of rules could be to pass — and how even a small defection of senators from his caucus could block it.

Continue Reading