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Wednesday 18 September 2019

4,000 flee eruption by Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire

The volcano is one of the most active in Central America and an eruption in June killed 194 people.

The Volcano of Fire (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
The Volcano of Fire (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

By Sonia Perez, Associated Press

About 4,000 residents have fled Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire as red-hot rock and ash spewed into the sky and cascaded down the slopes towards an area devastated by a deadly eruption earlier this year.

Guatemala’s volcanology unit said explosions from the 12,300ft high mountain shook homes with “constant sounds similar to a train locomotive”.

Incandescent material burst as high as 3,200ft above the crater and flows of hot rock and ash extended nearly two miles down one flank of the volcano.

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A cloud of red ash hovers over a highway close to the Volcan de Fuego (Moises Castillo/AP)

Hot blasts of pyroclastic material pushed down canyons on the slopes, while a column of ash rose nearly 23,000ft above sea level and drifted towards Guatemala City to the east.

Hundreds of families heeded the call of disaster co-ordination authorities to evacuate 10 communities, piling into yellow school buses for trips to shelters.

The national disaster commission said 3,925 people had been evacuated by early Monday.

The Volcano of Fire is one of the most active in Central America and an eruption in June killed 194 people. Another 234 are officially missing, although organisations supporting the communities have insisted there are thousands missing.

It spewed more ash and hot rock in October, prompting warnings for the nearby communities.

The biggest danger from the volcano are lahars, a mixture of ash, rock, mud and debris which can bury entire towns. By Monday, there had been no reports of such flows reaching populated areas, though authorities were taking no chances; they were criticised for not calling for evacuations earlier in June.

Four shelters have been set up for evacuees.

PA Media

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