Published: Mon, June 04, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

At least 7 killed, 20 hurt as Guatemala volcano erupts

At least 7 killed, 20 hurt as Guatemala volcano erupts

The volcano, known to be one of Central America's most active, has destroyed homes and blanketed nearby villages in a cloud of heavy ash.

Rescue operations were suspended until 5 am local time (4.30 pm Indian time) on Sunday because of unsafe conditions and inclement weather, a spokesman for the municipal firefighters department said.

"We also heard there were a couple of people who were coming down (from Acatenango) early this morning when it started raining small volcanic rocks up to the size of your palm". Shelters were opened for those forced to flee.

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It was the 3,763-metre volcano's second eruption this year. "There are injured, burned and dead people", Sergio Cabanas, the general secretary of Guatemala's CONRED national disaster management agency, said on radio, according to Reuters.

Video images published by Sacatepezuez television showed a charred landscape where a lava flow came into contact with homes. The remaining dead were found in El Rodeo and Alotenango, where a makeshift morgue was set up.

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

The eruption forced Guatemala City's La Aurora global 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 on Twitter.

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Three bodies lay partially buried in ash-coloured debris from the volcano, which lies about 44km from Guatemala City.

Police officers help the rescue effort in El Rodeo village.

According to the country's disaster agency, 3100 people had been evacuated from nearby communities, as falling ash continues to affect an area with a population of roughly 1.7 million.

The capital's global airport has also been closed due to the danger the ash poses to planes.

Guatemala's Volcan de Fuego, Spanish for "volcano of fire", exploded shortly before noon.

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