The Sunday eruption marked the second time this year that the mountain erupted, spewing hot lava spilling down the sides and sending thick smoke billowing almost six miles into the air. According to the country’s national disaster reduction organization, CONRED, the death toll continues to increase and may continue do so as the volcanic rocks and ash remain a lingering danger to the 1.7 million people in its path.
Sergio Garcia Cabanas, director of CONRED, said that in addition to the mounting death toll, at least 20 others have been injured as a result of the blast. Of those hospitalized, at least 12 have been children. The most common injury requiring hospitalization are burns due to the lava.
Cabanas said that search and rescue efforts will continue through the night and that so far more than 3,100 residents have already been evacuated from the area. The areas most affected by the natural disaster are the departments of Escuintla, Sacatepequez, and Chimaltenango.
The Fuego volcano literally translates to “fire” in the Spanish language. As one of Central America’s most active volcanos, it is located near the historic city and popular tourist destination of Antigua. In addition to the damage in Antigua, ash also made it as far south as the capital city, Guatemala City, located approximately 25 miles from the site of the eruption. Air travel was disrupted as the international airport was forced to close. The Guatemalan Army was called in to sweep massive amounts of ash and soot off of the airport’s runways.
Because explosions are still coming from the active volcano, officials are warning people to stay off roads near the area as they are susceptible to mudslides caused by lava.