Volcan del Fuego
07 Jun 2018

Almost 100 dead and 200 reported missing in the Volcano of Fire Eruption - 1,7 million people affected by the disaster in Guatemala


The death rate continues to rise after volcanic eruptions in Guatemala. 99 people are reported to have died after the outbreak of Volcán de Fuego, "The Volcano of Fire", in Guatemala, which began this weekend. On Wednesday, the USAR missions have been canceled - many now blame the emergency agency CONRED for not taking the signs of the eruption seriously.

People were overwhelmed by pyroclastic flows - fast-moving avalanches of gases, ash and rock - during the massive outbreak on Sunday.


Lava versus pyroclastic flow

    Here´s why the Guatemala eruption is so much more devastating than the current eruption on Hawaii: Hawaian Big Island volcano Kilauea's bi-product is lava, but Volcan del Fuego has unleashed pyroclastic flow -- a nasty mix of ash, rock and volcanic gases that can be much more dangerous than lava.

      In Guatemala, pyroclastic flow from Sunday's eruption topped about 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 degrees Fahrenheit), CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera said.

      "This eruption at Fuego was explosive, sending hot debris down the steep sides of the volcano to make the pyroclastic flows," said Erik W. Klemetti, associate professor of geo-sciences at Denison University.


      Lava flows you can´t run - or even drive - away from

      He said pyroclastic flows can flow down a volcano at hundreds of kilometers per hour -- way faster than what people and even cars could outrun.

      Kilauea produces lava (or sticky, molten rock) that typically creeps along at maybe hundreds of meters per hour -- not nearly as fast as devastating pyroclastic flow.

      The outbreak is the most powerful of the volcano for over four decades, and 12,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. Many don´t know if their close relatives are alive or not. During Wednesday afternoon local time almost 200 people are reported missing, according to the country's authorities, reports the news agency AP.

      Several of the bodies found have been unrecognizable, and DNA tests are required to identify the bodies. So far, 22 have been identified.

      USAR rescue missions was canceled during Wednesday due to continued activity from the volcano. Moreover, the terrain is difficult to access, and clay, stone blocks and ash are thrown out over the area from the volcano.

      The authorities state that the chance of finding survivors is small.

      According to the authorities, more than 1.7 million people have been affected by the disaster, as ash has spread over a large area. The volcano is located southwest of the capital Guatemala City (Ciudad de Guatemala).


      Deadly Like Pompeii


      New explosions from Volcán de Fuego during Wednesday gave rise to a 4,700 meter high ash cloud, and the country's volcanic institute warns that more hot currents may be on its way. There are also concerns that heavy rains  could create avalanches of volcanic material.


      A scenario like Pompeii 2000 years ago

      The area is covered with a thick layer of ash. The rescue workers use red paint in the dust to mark which houses have been searched.

      The American military announces that six children injured in the outbreak have been taken to the state of Texas for care. By the way, Guatemala has not asked other countries for help with the rescue work, for which President Jimmy Morales has been criticized.

      The United States, Mexico and several other countries have offered help.


      Emergency agency 'failed to heed warnings'

      Opposition politicians in Guatemala want the head of the emergency response agency (Conred) to be dismissed.

      They say Conred failed to heed advance warnings about the deadly eruption of the Fuego volcano.

      A senior opposition figure, Mario Taracena, said the government should investigate whether there was criminal negligence.


      Guatemala Map