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Guatemala's Volcano of Fire erupts again, with 192 people still missing

07 June 2018

Rescue workers walk on rooftops in Escuintla, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018, blanketed with heavy ash spewed by the Volcan de Fuego, or 'Volcano of Fire, ' pictured in the background, left center.

In the first few hours, the ash and mud was so hot, rescuers had a hard time reaching victims and by the time they made it out to some of them it was too late.

Lilian Hernandez wept as she spoke the names of aunts, uncles, cousins, her grandmother and two great-grandchildren - 36 family members in all - missing and presumed dead in the explosion of Guatemala's Volcano of Fire.

About 10 small eruptions every hour had been reported by seismologists, but none of them compared to the major blast which shook the region on Sunday afternoon.

Seven communities in already devastated areas were evacuated as the volcano's activity increased, with rescue operations halted.

"Any type of disaster like this is a blow to people emotionally and everyone here loves their country", Wallace says.

General Walter Sanchez, in charge of operations around the epicenter of the destruction near the village of El Rodeo, said the heat from the ash and hot sediment made rescue work hard.

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At a shelter for people displaced by the powerful volcanic eruption in Guatemala, student stylists are volunteering to give haircuts to people who were burned the day of the disaster.

A baby miraculously survived after a house was covered in ash.

Her brother and sister made it to safety, but their grandmother has not been seen again.

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. "I have three children, a grandchild, and all my brothers, my mother, all my family are there". My children say they would rather be in the streets ... Rescuers are still struggling to locate people due to homes and roads being completely covered in volcanic ash.

Emergency services are working to find survivors after a searing cloud of debris hit El Rodeo and other towns on the volcano's slopes.

Guatemala's National Institute of Seismology head Eddy Sanchez had predicted "no imminent eruption over the next few days".

"Lavas can be deadly and risky, but they usually move at a more predictable rate and don't spread out as quickly across the land, so it can usually be escaped from before people lose their life", Rubin said.

Guatemala's Volcano of Fire erupts again, with 192 people still missing