Guatemala volcano eruption death toll hits 99

Guatemala volcano eruption death toll hits 99

The official death toll, which stood at more than 75, was sure to rise, with at least 192 people reported missing.

"One million seven hundred thousand people are affected, and that number could rise - he said - there is serious damage to infrastructure, especially roads and bridges, so communications are very hard".

"Mr. President, my family is missing", she said.

Super-heated volcanic debris swept through small communities on the volcano's flanks Sunday with little warning for residents.

No evacuation alert was issued before the volcano erupted on Sunday, said Sergio Cabañas, the director of Guatemala's disaster prevention agency.

Recent photos show these heroes carrying dogs, chickens and even a monkey away from the ash-buried areas near the volcano.

Authorities said explosions from the volcano, which again streamed pyroclastic flows Tuesday, are threatening villages southeast of the mountain.

By afternoon a new column of smoke was rising from the mountain and Guatemala's disaster agency said volcanic material was descending its south side, prompting an evacuation order and the closure of a nearby national highway.

"It is very hard for us to identify them because some of the dead lost their features or their fingerprints" from the red-hot flows, said Fanuel Garcia, director of the National Institute of Forensic Sciences.

Despite offers of worldwide help from the United States, Mexico and several Latin American neighbours, Guatemalan authorities have not made a request for foreign aid. So far only the body of one relative, her 28-year-old cousin, Cesar Gudiel Escalante, has been recovered and identified. The only thing they did not yet have was information on the unidentified bodies, but would be adding that as it became available, he said.

Seven communities in already devastated areas were evacuated as the volcano's activity increased, with rescue operations halted. It warns civil aviation authorities to closely monitor and take precautions regarding air traffic.

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Rescuers, police and journalists hurried to leave the area as a siren wailed and loudspeakers blared, "Evacuate".

This has been the volcano's biggest eruption in the past four decades, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, rescuers scoured a lava- and ash-ravaged landscape in Guatemala for a third straight day on Wednesday in search of survivors and victims of Fuego volcano's calamitous eruption. Rubin says that when hot ash from a pyroclastic flow settles and mixes with a water source, like rain, it could lead to mud flows called Lahars.

Some of the eruptions sent an ash plume 16,000 feet into the sky.

Israel Ambassador to Guatemala Matty Cohen has ordered the flag of the Jewish State to be lowered to half-mast at the headquarters of the Israel Embassy as a sign of solidarity with the people of Guatemala in the wake of Sunday's deadly eruption of the Fuego volcano.

But by Wednesday morning, rescuer workers were back at work with pickaxes, metal rods and flashlights in hand, risking their own lives in search of victims or a miracle survivor.

Numerous dead were burned to death or suffocated from the poisonous gases released.

CONRED also said the number of injuries remains at 46, while 1.7 million people have been affected.

The National Institute of Forensic Sciences reported that it was possible to identify 17 of the 69 victims by means of "fingerprints and physical traits", but many bodies are completely burned and recognition is nearly impossible. These flows - a combination of ash, rock and volcanic gases - travel so fast during an eruption that it's impossible for anything to outrun them.

The Colima volcano is one of the most active in Mexico and in the last days its activity has intensified.

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