Published: Mon, June 04, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Death toll climbs from volcano's explosions of ash, molten rock in Guatemala

Death toll climbs from volcano's explosions of ash, molten rock in Guatemala

The eruption forced the Guatemala City's La Aurora worldwide airport to shut down its only runway due to the presence of volcanic ash and to guarantee passenger and aircraft safety, Guatemala's civil aviation authority said in a Tweet.

David de León, spokesman for the disaster agency, said about 300 people had evacuated the area around the volcano. Four other people were killed, including a disaster agency official, after a house caught fire from the lava.

Dozens of people are missing with over 2,000 more having been evacuated from the affected areas, the Noticias 4Vision broadcaster reported.

Eddy Sánchez, the director of Guatemala's National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology, tells the newspaper Diario de Centroamerica that ash was falling north and east of the volcano, in San Luca, Antigua Guatemala, Alotenango, Chimaltenago and Zaragoza.

Lava rivers descend on the town of El Rodeo in Escuintla, 35 km south of Guatemala City, catching people unawares and killing them in their homes.

The volcano, about 40km (25 miles) south-west of the capital Guatemala City, has been spewing black smoke and ash into the sky.

The global airport in Guatemala City - around 27 miles away - was forced to close, after the runway and aircrafts were covered with volcanic materials.

People were working to clean ash off the runways to get the airport operating again.National Disaster Coordinator Sergio Cabanas said seven people were confirmed dead and an unknown number were unaccounted for.

The president said he and his government would determine whether to ask Congress to declare a state of emergency in the areas, while at the same time appealing to the population for calm.

At least 15 people have been hospitalized, including 12 children, some of whom suffered severe burns, the health ministry said.

An ambulance of the volunteer firefighter unit carries the wounded from the village of El Porvenir after the eruption.

The volcano, one of Central America's most active, is located near the colonial city of Antigua.

The stratovolcano - a volcano built from layers of ash and lava - "has erupted on and off for centuries", according to the U.S.

La Aurora airport in the country's capital of Guatemala City, was reportedly closed on Sunday due to the eruption, according to reports citing the Guatemalan Coordinating Agency for Disaster Reduction (CONRED).

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