Authorities in Guatemalan have revealed that a volcanic eruption has killed at least 25 people. At least 25 people were killed when a volcano erupted in Guatemala, sending lava flowing into villages, and leaving homes and roads blanketed with ash.
The Volcan de Fuego, or “volcano of fire,” exploded in a hail of ash and molten rock on Sunday. The blast cut off rural residents. Rescuers have struggled to reach them.
Authorities fear the death toll could rise further because many people are unaccounted for. President Jimmy Morales has announced three days of mourning.
Volcan de Fuego (Volcano of fire) — one of the most active volcanoes in Central America — is located about 27 miles from Guatemala City.
The death toll rose late Sunday after 18 bodies were found in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes, disaster agency spokesman David de Leon said. Seven people were initially confirmed dead after the volcano erupted soon after noon local time Sunday. At least 20 people were injured.
National Disaster Management Agency chief Sergio Cabañas told local radio that a lava stream changed course to head toward the village of El Rodeo, the BBC reported.
“Unfortunately El Rodeo was buried and we haven’t been able to reach the La Libertad village because of the lava and maybe there are people that died there too,” he said.
More than 3,000 people evacuated nearby communities, and the eruption was affecting an area with a population of about 1.7 million people. Shelters were opened for those forced to flee.
Hundreds of rescue workers were helping survivors and recovering bodies from the lava, while some areas were inaccessible as roads were cut off by the flow. Some firefighters were pictured weeping as they left the scene of the destruction.
Videos showed a fast-moving flow destroying a bridge on a highway between Sacatepequez and Escuintla, and barefoot residents covered in muddy residue.
“Not everyone was able to get out. I think they ended up buried,” Consuelo Hernandez, an El Rodeo resident, told the Diario de Centroamerica newspaper.
“Where we saw the lava fall, we ran to a hillside” to escape, she said.