- Guatemala sinks into pain and uncertainty
- The latest news about fire volcano eruption
- 50 years of volcanic eruptions
The eruption of fire volcano this Sunday — strongest in crater since 1974 — is a tragedy whose scope is still unknown. Officially death toll amounted to 62 people, but finding of more bodies could increase total number of deaths. Only in vicinity of village El Rodeo (Escuintla, in south of Guatemala, most affected area) The lifeguards have located 29 bodies. Nine of m have already been transferred to morgue. The remainder could not be evacuated for moment because rescuers had to abandon ir work by new rivers of lava; The agents are waiting to resume it as soon as re are minimum safety conditions.
The head of National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred), Sergio Garcia, said on Sunday night that counted 3,100 people evacuated and 1.7 million citizens affected by explosion. At moment number of missing persons and refugees is unknown, as many of m have sought shelter in family homes or friends. At least three villages disappeared under tons of ash.
A natural tragedy has struck weakest again. Anonymous citizens who fight from sun to Sun to have, at best, a dish of hot food a day. The heroes, who also exist, are equally anonymous citizens: Firefighters, policemen and privates who play life at scene of tragedy, without minimum equipment necessary to face emergency. The rulers, meanwhile, are lost in bureaucracy that only complicates fluidity of aid that, thanks to generosity of Guatemalans, arrives with abundance to centers of collection.
The images spoke on ir own. To contemplate a firefighter to mourn after leaving zone of tragedy where he could see in rubble of houses to whole families calcined by volcanic lava, is one of m. Women who walk like zombies trying to know fate of ir loved ones, unable to understand that y should not reach ir old homes, without serious risk to ir lives, is anor.
The tragedy occurred on edge of three Sunday afternoons (local time) when an avalanche of volcanic lava, stones and mud rushed over several communities located in foothills of crater. Not everyone managed to escape. Entire families were trapped in ir humble homes. Ors in an evangelical church, where y attended Sunday Mass. Some bodies, such as a pregnant woman, were calcined under volcanic expulsions.
Among "very serious" injured are four children with third and fourth grade burns. At least one of m survives with assisted breathing. It is not easy to set a number of wounded, because it changes with passing of hours, while hope of finding more survivors is fading.
If humanely victims have not been quantified, material aspect has not even been taken care of. Experts such as Gustavo Chigna of Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, meteorology and Hydrology (Insivumeh), estimates that crops, particularly maize and coffee, would have been reduced to ashes within a radius of five kilometres around volcano.
The shelters are saturated, although number of refugees is not known for certain, among or reasons because many have done so in houses of friends and family. However, at 21.00 on Sunday Conred reported 653 people attended in shelters in Escuintla and Sacatepéquez.
The ash rain affected at least five departments (provinces), a circumstance that carries risk of contamination of drinking water, while at same time putting at risk drainage system, which can be saturated. The president, Jimmy Morales, declared state of calamity throughout Guatemalan territory, something that was expected to be approved by legislature on Monday afternoon at an emergency meeting.
Meanwhile, La Aurora Airport has been reopened and domestic and international flights begin to operate normally.