Amidst fresh explosions in Guatemala’s Volcan de Fuego, toll rises to 75 with more than 200 missing

The biggest explosions ever in four decades of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala, the devastations took lives of around 75 till date with at least 192 missing. The fresh rounds of powerful explosions scattered ashes over a wide area and forced authorities to order further evacuations. The news relayed gripping stories of whole families being devastated by the disastrous explosions.

Satellites could not take proper images of such devastation because they were removed too far. Still, some of them took images to locate such eruption. The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite, which is a joint mission of NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Department of Defense, took some images of the ash plume, which went above the overlying clouds.

The Associated Press while speaking with Lilian Hernandez, a weeping and distraught woman from the town of San Miguel Los Lotes, found that her 36 member family of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmother, and grandchildren are all missing and presumed to be dead in the disaster.

One of the most active volcanoes in Central America, the Fuego volcano had ashes reaching to around 16000 ft. and sending lava flows through nearby towns on Tuesday afternoon. Two days have passed by since the eruption on Sunday. Still, the terrain has been too hot in many places for rescue crews to look for bodies, which is unlikely to find any survivor with each passing day.

Guatemala’s Seismology and Volcanology Institute reported and warned people of new pyroclastic outflow of hot and toxic gasses along with debris from the volcano. The AP reports of volcanic material descending the mountains southern side, forcing an evacuation order and closure of the national highway nearby.

Guatemala’s National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction, David De Leon, said that due to the increased activity of the volcano, evacuation process on war footing are being carried out of the nearby communities and on which the AP reported saying – “the evacuations have been setting off a panicky flight by people that stalled traffic in some areas.” The official report increased the death toll from Sunday’s eruptions to 75. 

The Disaster Relief Agency chief, Sergio Cabañas told the France-Presse news agency that they now have an account of people’s names and towns from where they have gone missing and 192 people in total till date has been unaccounted for. 

Volcan de Fuego, meaning ‘Volcano of Fire’ in Spanish, is one of the several active volcanoes among 34 others in the Central American country. It lies very close to the colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site that has survived several significant eruptions, in the past. 

In the past the latest activities have all been mostly on the farthest side of the volcano, facing the Pacific coast. The eruption on Sunday had sent columns of ashes and smoked almost 10 kilometers into the sky, blanketing several regions of the area.