A volcano erupted in Guatemala Sunday spewing ash and sending streams of lava into rural areas, where at least 25 people were reportedly killed, according to the Associated Press and local officials.
The Volcan de Fuego, or “Volcano of Fire” erupted shortly before noon local time, raining down ash on nearby villages. By late afternoon, lava was flowing down the mountain, engulfing homes and roads, and crippling rescue efforts. The lava flows reached temperatures of about 1,300 degrees, according to Eddy Sanchez, director of the country’s seismology and volcanology institute.
At least 18 bodies were discovered in San Miguel Los Lotes, a disaster official told AP. The remaining dead were found in El Rodeo and Alotenango, where a makeshift morgue was set up. Several people have been reported missing.
Among the dead were two children who burned to death as they stood on a bridge watching the volcano erupt, the AP reported. Four other people were killed, including a disaster agency official, after a house caught fire from the lava.
“It’s a river of lava that overflowed its banks and affected the El Rodeo village. There are injured, burned and dead people,” Sergio Cabanas, the general secretary of Guatemala’s CONRED national disaster management agency, said on radio, according to Reuters.
More than 3,000 people were evacuated from the area, officials said. Images in the news media and on social media showed people and villages caked in ash. Firefighters reported being unable to reach people trapped in areas cut off by the lava.
Rescue operations were suspended as of nightfall because conditions were too dangerous to continue, officials said.
The volcano is about 25 miles from Guatemala City, the country’s capital, which has a population of about three million people. Aviation authorities there closed the international airport due to the potential danger to planes by the ash, the AP reported.
Sunday marked the second eruption this year for the 12,346-foot volcano.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Susan Hogan