The Latest: Guatemala says 192 people missing after eruption
EL RODEO, Guatemala (AP) — The latest on the eruption of Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire (all times local):
Guatemala’s disaster agency says 192 people are listed as missing following Sunday’s deadly eruption of the Volcano of Fire. Agency director Sergio Cabanas made the announcement Tuesday evening.
Earlier in the day, the country’s National Institute of Forensic Sciences said 75 bodies have been recovered but only 23 of those have been identified. Cabanas says some of the missing people could be among the unidentified bodies.
Super-heated volcanic debris swept through small communities on the volcano’s flanks Sunday with little warning for residents. Some homes were buried to their roof lines in ash.
Rescuers were pulled back Tuesday after volcanic activity increased and new flows were spotted descending the volcano’s slopes.
Guatemala’s seismology and vulcanology institute says activity is increasing at the Volcano of Fire, which erupted Sunday and sent deadly flows of super-hot material boiling down its slopes and into nearby villages.
On Tuesday, strong explosions billowed ash up more than 16,000 feet (5,000 meters) above sea level and the dust was blowing east and northeast.
The institute said Tuesday evening that there was a moderate flow of dangerous volcanic material down the volcano, and warned of the possibility of a strong flow in some areas.
The country’s disaster agency issued new evacuation orders for some nearby communities Tuesday afternoon setting off a panicky flight by people that stalled traffic in some areas.
Authorities also increased the death toll from Sunday’s eruption by five on Tuesday, to 75.
Guatemala’s National Institute of Forensic Sciences has raised the death toll from Sunday’s eruption of the Volcano of Fire to 75.
Authorities have not offered any estimate of how many people might still be missing.
The institute says only 23 of the recovered bodies have been identified so far. The searing hot volcanic material that covered communities near the volcano left many of the bodies unrecognizable so DNA testing or other methods will be necessary for identification.
The new round of evacuation orders from Guatemalan authorities has set off a panic even in areas where the order does not apply near the Volcano of Fire.
Sirens from emergency vehicles filled the air Tuesday as rescuers were withdrawn from the hardest hit communities because of new flows of super-heated volcanic material.
Guatemala’s disaster agency is calling for calm, but after receiving little or no warning before the volcano exploded Sunday, many people are not taking chances.
Dozens of people were seen walking along roadsides carrying children or a few belongings beside paralyzed traffic in parts of Escuintla township south of the volcano. Only some communities in Escuintla are under an evacuation order, but even in the more distant central Escuintla businesses have closed and people are leaving.
The death toll stands at 70, but is expected to rise.
Guatemala’s seismology and vulcanology institute says the new flow of searing hot volcanic material down the southeastern slopes of the Volcano of Fire is expected to produce a “curtain” of ash that the wind will carry to the west and northwest.
The institute’s latest bulletin says the blowing ash could reach heights of about 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) above sea level. It warns civil aviation authorities to closely monitor and take precautions regarding air traffic.
The volcano exploded Sunday, sending down superhot clouds of gas and ash that killed at least 70 people in communities on its flanks. Rescuers were evacuated from those areas with the new flows Tuesday afternoon.
Guatemala’s disaster agency says superhot volcanic material is once again flowing down the south side of the Volcano of Fire.
The report of new flows comes shortly after the agency announced new evacuations Tuesday afternoon and pulled back rescuers, police, journalists and others from towns destroyed after Sunday’s volcanic eruption.
A short video posted by the agency showed a steady flow of traffic away from the volcano to the sound of a blaring alarm.
The agency says at least 70 people were killed by similar flows of searingly hot gases and ash on Sunday.
Guatemala’s disaster agency has ordered new evacuations from areas around the Volcano of Fire because of increased volcanic activity that raises the threat of further flows of searingly hot gases and ash.
An Associated Press journalist near the volcano reports a new column of smoke rose into the sky Tuesday afternoon as police and other rescuers were quickly withdrawn from the area.
The disaster agency said a little earlier that at least 70 people had died from Sunday’s eruption of the volcano west of Guatemala City.
Guatemala’s disaster agency says the death toll from Sunday’s volcanic eruption has risen by one to 70.
The agency known as Conred also says the number of people in shelters is now 2,625.
The country’s National Institute of Forensic Sciences reported Tuesday that the latest death involved a person who died at a hospital.
Pope Francis is mourning the victims of Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire eruption and sending his prayers for their families and the rescue crews trying to help survivors.
Francis sent a telegram of condolence Tuesday, saying he was “profoundly sorry” to learn of the high toll. He said he wanted to express his “consolation to families who are weeping for the loss of their loved ones, as well as spiritual closeness to the wounded and those who are working to help.”
Guatemalan authorities put the death toll at 69, but officials said just 17 had been identified so far because the intense heat of the volcanic debris flows left most bodies unrecognizable.
Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire is continuing to burst out rocks and ash, nearly two days after a major eruption that killed at least 69 people.
The country’s volcanology and meteorology institute says the volcano has been experiencing eight to 10 moderate explosions per hour Tuesday morning, though the scale of the activity is far lower than that of Sunday.
That eruption caught residents of remote mountain hamlets off guard, with little or no time to flee to safety.
The volcano has been in eruption since 2002.