Tuesday 21 August 2018

'Fuego' disaster: 32 photographs that show the true devastation after volcano eruption in Guatemala

  • Guatemalan families continue search for victims after volcano eruption
  • Death toll from deadly volcano eruption rises to 69
  • Just a fraction of victims have been identified so far
  • The eruption of Fuego - Spanish for "fire" - on Sunday was the biggest in more than four decades
  • Volcano forced closure of Guatemala's main international airport and dumped ash on thousands of acres of coffee farms on the volcano's slopes
  • Warning: Readers may find some photographs of a distressing nature
Aerial view of the aftermath of a volcano eruption in Escuintla, Guatemala, is seen in this picture obtained June 4, 2018 from social media. MINGOB/PNC/via REUTERS
Aerial view of the aftermath of a volcano eruption in Escuintla, Guatemala, is seen in this picture obtained June 4, 2018 from social media. MINGOB/PNC/via REUTERS
Evacuees gather outside a church used as a shelter after the Fuego volcano erupted in Alotenango, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
Firefighters and rescue workers look for bodies and survivors at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A young evacuee gathers inside a church used as a shelter after the Fuego volcano erupted in Alotenango, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
Evacuees gather inside a church used as a shelter after the Fuego volcano erupted in Alotenango, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
Children play inside a church used as a shelter after Fuego volcano erupted in Alotenango, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
People attend the funeral procession, including musicians, for seven people who died during the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which in Spanish means Volcano of Fire, as they make their way to the cemetery in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018. Residents of villages skirting the volcano began mourning the dead after an eruption buried them in searing ash and mud. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)
Trumpet players accompany the funeral procession of seven people who died during the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which in Spanish means Volcano of Fire, to the cemetery in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018. Residents of villages skirting the volcano began mourning the dead after an eruption buried them in searing ash and mud. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)
A police officer stumbles while running away after the Fuego volcano spew new pyroclastic flow in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Firefighters, one of them holding a puppy, stand in formation at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
A firefighter shovels ashes while searching for bodies at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
A resident observes a dead dog at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
People carry the coffins of seven people who died during the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which in Spanish means Volcano of Fire, in the background, to the cemetery in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018. Residents of villages skirting the volcano began mourning the dead after an eruption buried them in searing ash and mud. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)
A resident recovers a television from his house at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
A car covered in ash is seen at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
Military personnel are seen at a house affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
Vehicles damaged by an eruption from Fuego volcano are seen beside a firefighter in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH Firefighters carry a body at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria TEMPLATE OUT
A woman is comforted by a firefighter while mourning for her missing relatives at an area affected by the eruption from Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
A resident carries his dog as he leaves an area affected by the eruption from Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
A woman mourns for her missing relatives at an area affected by eruption from Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
Firefighters inspect an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano to search for bodies and survivors in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
Mourners take part in the funeral of seven victims who died during the eruption of the Fuego volcano in Alotenango, Guatemala on June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
Musicians take part in the funeral of seven victims who died during the eruption of the Fuego volcano in Alotenango, Guatemala on June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
Mourners take part in the funeral of seven victims who died during the eruption of the Fuego volcano in Alotenango, Guatemala on June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
The body of a victim lies entangled with felled trees blanketed by heavy ash spewed by the Volcan de Fuego, or "Volcano of Fire," in Escuintla, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018. A fiery volcanic eruption in south-central Guatemala sent lava flowing into rural communities, killing at least 25 as rescuers struggled to reach people where homes and roads were charred and blanketed with ash. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)
A firefighter kneels besides bodies recovered near the Volcan de Fuego, or "Volcano of Fire," in Escuintla, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018. The fiery volcanic eruption in south-central Guatemala sent lava flowing into rural communities Sunday, killing several people. Rescuers struggled to reach people where homes and roads were charred and blanketed with ash. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)
A youth cries over the coffin of Nery Otoniel Gomez Rivas, 17, whose body was pulled from the volcanic ash during the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which in Spanish means Volcano of Fire, during his wake at the main park of the town San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018. A fiery volcanic eruption in south-central Guatemala sent lava flowing into rural communities, killing dozens as rescuers struggled to reach people where homes and roads were charred and blanketed with ash. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)
A truck is covered in volcanic ash spewed by Volcan de Fuego, or Volcano of Fire, in Escuintla, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018. A fiery volcanic eruption in south-central Guatemala sent lava flowing into rural communities, killing at least 25 as rescuers struggled to reach people where homes and roads were charred and blanketed with ash. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)
Residents carry a body recovered near the Volcan de Fuego, or "Volcano of Fire," in Escuintla, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018. A fiery volcanic eruption in south-central Guatemala sent lava flowing into rural communities Sunday, killing several people. Rescuers struggled to reach people where homes and roads were charred and blanketed with ash. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)
A firefighter carries the body of a child recovered near the Volcan de Fuego, which means in Spanish Volcano of Fire, in Escuintla, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018. A fiery volcanic eruption in south-central Guatemala sent lava flowing into rural communities, killing dozens. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)
People mourn over the coffin of their loved one, who died during the eruption of the Fuego volcano, during a wake at a plaza in Alotenango, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

Luis Echeverria and Sofia Menchu

The death toll from a volcanic eruption in Guatemala rose to 69 on Monday as family members desperately searched for the missing in makeshift morgues and on streets blanketed with ash.

Guatemala's national disaster agency, CONRED, increased the death toll as more bodies were pulled from the debris around the village of El Rodeo, which was hard hit by the eruption. Just a fraction of the victims have been identified so far.

At a makeshift morgue in the city of Escuintla, about 30 km (18.6 miles) from the explosion, distraught family members came to search for their relatives among the dead.

Francisco Quiche, a 46-year-old welder, gave a blood sample to try to identify his son's body, though he already knew his son's fate.

Firefighters and rescue workers look for bodies and survivors at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Firefighters and rescue workers look for bodies and survivors at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A young evacuee gathers inside a church used as a shelter after the Fuego volcano erupted in Alotenango, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

After evacuating the town of El Rodeo with his family, he returned to search for his son and daughter-in-law. Peering through a hole in the wall of his son's home, Quiche saw the boy's body. He fears his daughter-in-law is dead as well.

"We had time to leave, thank God, but I am very sorry for the loss of my son and my daughter in law," he said through tears. "My son was just 22 years old, the same as my daughter-in-law, who was expecting a baby."

The eruption of Fuego - Spanish for "fire" - on Sunday was the biggest in more than four decades, forcing the closure of Guatemala's main international airport and dumping ash on thousands of acres (hectares) of coffee farms on the volcano's slopes.

By Monday evening, the volcano's activity was lessening, and is expected to continue to diminish in the coming days, Eddy Sanchez, director of the seismological, volcanic and meteorological institute Insivumeh, told reporters.

People attend the funeral procession, including musicians, for seven people who died during the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which in Spanish means Volcano of Fire, as they make their way to the cemetery in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018. Residents of villages skirting the volcano began mourning the dead after an eruption buried them in searing ash and mud. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)
People attend the funeral procession, including musicians, for seven people who died during the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which in Spanish means Volcano of Fire, as they make their way to the cemetery in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018. Residents of villages skirting the volcano began mourning the dead after an eruption buried them in searing ash and mud. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)

The task of retrieving bodies on Monday was hindered by another eruption and an apparent landslide on the southern slopes of Fuego triggered fresh evacuations. Later in the afternoon, heavy rains forced rescuers to abandon the search in El Rodeo until the next morning, a spokesman for CONRED said.

Rains are expected to continue to complicate searches in the coming days, Sanchez said.

Trumpet players accompany the funeral procession of seven people who died during the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which in Spanish means Volcano of Fire, to the cemetery in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018. Residents of villages skirting the volcano began mourning the dead after an eruption buried them in searing ash and mud. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)
Trumpet players accompany the funeral procession of seven people who died during the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which in Spanish means Volcano of Fire, to the cemetery in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala, Monday, June 4, 2018. Residents of villages skirting the volcano began mourning the dead after an eruption buried them in searing ash and mud. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)

Elsewhere, the process of mourning had begun. Local television footage showed residents of villages walking through the streets, caskets hoisted on their shoulders.

Structures and trees at the base of the Fuego volcano were completely coated in brown and gray.

Armed soldiers donning blue masks kept watch at a badly affected neighborhood that had been cordoned off, Reuters photos showed. As late as Monday afternoon, the volcano continued expelling a dark cloud of gases and rocks.

Fuego, one of several active volcanoes out of 34 in the Central American country, is near the colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site that has survived several volcanic eruptions. The latest activity is mostly on the far side of the volcano, facing the Pacific coast.

A police officer stumbles while running away after the Fuego volcano spew new pyroclastic flow in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A police officer stumbles while running away after the Fuego volcano spew new pyroclastic flow in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The eruption on Sunday sent columns of ash and smoke 6.2 miles (10 km) into the sky, dusting several regions with ash. More than 3,200 people have been evacuated, CONRED said.

CONRED shared a photo showing the flows of gas and mud sweeping down a mountainside and across a broad valley, engulfing a small village.

A resident observes a dead dog at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
A resident observes a dead dog at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

"The landscape on the volcano is totally changed, everything is totally destroyed," government volcanologist Gustavo Chigna said on local radio.

The agency also launched an online registry of missing people.

The eruption showered sand and ash on coffee plants across as much as 6,890 acres (2,788 hectares), including close to the volcano's cone, causing an estimated loss of 0.91 percent of Guatemala’s coffee production, the country’s national coffee association said.

Military personnel are seen at a house affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
Military personnel are seen at a house affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

In some areas, rain rinsed ash off the leaves, and the full extent of the damage was not yet clear, the association said.

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