The eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano has killed at least 25 people, including three children, and has left dozens more missing. Nearby villages have been blanketed in ash causing more than 300 people to evacuate.
At least 25 people were killed and dozens injured as Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupted for the second time this year on Sunday.
National Disaster Coordinator Sergio Cabanas said four people died when lava set a house on fire and two children were burned to death while watching the eruption from a bridge.
The volcano spewed a river of red lava and sent a thick cloud of black smoke and ash into the sky causing more than 300 people to be evacuated from nearby villages and forcing the capital’s La Aurora international airport to shut down its only runway.
The active volcano is about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of the capital Guatemala City. Many of the dead came from the three towns of El Rodeo, Alotenago and San Miguel los Lotes.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said he would issue a declaration of a state of emergency to be approved by Congress and urged people to listen to warnings from emergency officials.
Hundreds of rescue workers, including firefighters, police and soldiers worked to recover bodies from still-smoking lava. Rescue operations were suspended until Monday morning due to inclement weather and dangerous conditions.
‘A river of lava’
Eddy Sanchez, director of Guatemala’s seismology and volcanology institute, said the lava flows reached temperatures of about 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit (700 Celsius).
“It’s a river of lava that overflowed its banks and affected the Rodeo village. There are injured, burned and dead people,” Cabanas said on radio.
Read more: Why risk living on a volcano like Kilauea?
Earlier on Sunday, the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) in Guatemala said fiery clouds of smoke were billowing from the volcano and that soot had blanketed cars and houses in the nearby villages of San Pedro Yepocapa and Sangre de Cristo.
Lesser amounts of ash fell on Guatemala City, which is 44 kilometers (27 miles) from the volcano.
The Fuego volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Central America.
“It is important to remain calm because the Fuego volcano erupts throughout the year,” said David de Leon, spokesman for the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction.
law/aw (AP, Reuters)