Rescue workers run for cover as the Volcan de Fuego blows more clouds of ash. (AP: Rodrigo Abd)
Guatemalan authorities have warned the Fuego volcano is showing signs of greater activity, as the death toll from a devastating eruption at the weekend climbed to 75 and nearly 200 people remained missing.
- Authorities say 75 people have died and around 200 remain missing
- The Volcan de Fuego is one of several active volcanos in Guatemala
- Last weekend’s eruption was the most severe in four decades
The seismological, volcanic and meteorological institute Insivumeh heightened its warnings after the volcano erupted again earlier on Tuesday, forcing evacuations and sending rescue workers scrambling for cover.
Today’s eruption also forced the closure of a national highway, while authorities said the smoke billowing from the volcano’s top could produce a “curtain” of ash that could reach 6,000 metres above sea level, posing a danger to air traffic.
Rescuers, police and journalists hurried to leave the area as a siren wailed and loudspeakers blared, “Evacuate”.
The peak had its most devastating eruption in more than four decades on Sunday, showering ash on a wide area and sending lava flows through nearby towns.
Two days after the eruption, the terrain was still too hot in many places for rescue crews to search for bodies or — increasingly unlikely with each passing day — survivors.
National disaster agency CONRED said 192 people remained missing after the disaster, and forensic agency Inacif raised the death toll to at least 75, up from 72.
The explosions have reduced the once-verdant area to a moonscape of ash.
“The conditions are extremely critical at this moment,” Insivumeh director Eddy Sanchez told reporters.
Volcan de Fuego, which means Volcano of Fire in Spanish, is one of several active volcanoes among 34 in the Central American country.
It lies near the colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site that has survived several major eruptions.
The latest activity has been mostly on the far side of the volcano, facing the Pacific coast.
The eruption on Sunday sent columns of ash and smoke 10 kilometres into the sky, blanketing several regions. Thousands of people have been evacuated, CONRED said.