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Guatemala volcano: Fuego eruption sends boiling rock flying almost two miles, forcing 4,000 residents to flee

Incandescent material bursts 1,000 metres into the air

Harriet Agerholm
Tuesday 20 November 2018 11:21 GMT
Guatemala's Volcano of Fire erupts sending ash and rock spewing into air

Thousands of residents have fled Guatemala‘s Fuego volcano (Volcano of Fire), which sent boiling lava and ash flying almost two miles from its summit.

Guatemala’s volcanology unit said explosions from the 12,300-foot high mountain shook homes with “constant sounds similar to a train”, terrorising communities still recovering after an eruption earlier this year killed 194 people.

Incandescent material burst as high as 1,000 metres above the crater and rivers of pyroclastic material flowed down the mountain’s slopes.

Meanwhile, a column of ash rose nearly 23,000 feet before drifting eastwards towards Guatemala City.

Some 4,000 residents heeded the request by authorities to evacuate, piling into yellow school buses for trips to shelters.

The national disaster commission said 3,925 people had been evacuated by early Monday, although the eruption grew less intense and later many decided to return to their homes.

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 support organisations say thousands are missing and presumed dead.

The biggest danger from the volcano are lahars, a mixture of ash, rock, mud and debris, that can bury entire towns. On Monday, there had been no reports of such flows reaching populated areas.

Four emergency shelters have been set up for evacuees, including a camp of nylon tents erected at a sports centre in the nearby town of Escuintla.

Dora Caal, 26, who fled her town of El Rodeo with five members of her family, said: “Last night we heard the volcano roar, you could see fire, we couldn’t sleep.

“At dawn we said we’d better get out, we were afraid.”

Ms Caal said she was still suffering from the eruption in June.

“Back then I lost my job at a farm that was on the slopes of the volcano, she said. “They closed it and we can’t work there anymore.”

Enma Hernandez, 42, left her home in El Rodeo to evacuate, but her 20-year-old son stayed behind to protect the family home from looters.

A number of communities decided to evacuate only women and children.

Additional reporting by PA

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