Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupts in fury

Guatemala's Fuego volcano eruption has claimed lives

As of Monday morning, volcanic activity had subsided, according to Guatemala's National Institute of Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology.

Dramatic video showed a fast-moving lahar, or flow of pyroclastic material and slurry, slamming into and partly destroying a bridge on a highway between Sacatepequez and Escuintla.

It urged residents living near the volcano to evacuate immediately and warned residents of the towns of Chimaltenango, Sacatepequez and Escuintla to watch out for volcanic rocks and ash.

Local television footage showed mourners walking through the streets, caskets hoisted on their shoulders.

"Not everyone was able to get out".

"Not everyone escaped, I think they were buried", Consuelo Hernandez told news outlet Diario de Centroamerica.

Residents were caught in the multiple pyroclastic flows which rushed down the sides of the volcano and engulfed nearby villages.

Pyroclastic flow is a dense, destructive mass of very hot ash, lava fragments, and gases ejected explosively from a volcano and typically flowing downslope at great speed.

Rescue operations were suspended until 5:00 A.M. (1100 GMT) due to risky conditions and inclement weather, said Cecilio Chacaj, a spokesman for the municipal firefighters department. Meanwhile, the airport in Guatemala City remains closed. "There are injured, burned and dead people", Sergio Cabañas, the general secretary of Guatemala's CONRED national disaster management agency, said on radio.

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The head of the country's disaster agency, Sergio Cabanas, gave the updated death toll, but said rescuers using helicopters had pulled 10 people from areas swept over by a towering cloud of thick ash, mud or lava. The remaining dead were found in El Rodeo and Alotenango, where a makeshift morgue was set up.

Guatemala's disaster agency said 3,100 people had evacuated nearby communities, and ash fall from the eruption was affecting an area with a population of about 1.7 million of the country's 15 million or so people.

Farmers covered in ash fled for their lives as civil defence workers tried to relocate them to shelters during the event.

The Fuego eruption has not been producing not lava flows, which has been reported, as the volcano does not characteristically produce long fluid lava flows, like those now erupting from Kilauea, Dr Rothery explained.

It added that he said authorities began to send bulletins on the situation starting at 11:30 a.m.

President Jimmy Morales has announced three days of mourning.

A man cleans ashes from the Volcan de Fuego off his auto in Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepequez department, southwest of Guatemala City on Sun., June 3, 2018. It is located near the colonial city of Antigua.

Aviation authorities closed Guatemala City's global airport because of the danger posed to planes, but the airport was reopened at mid-morning Monday after workers cleared away ash.

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