Guatemala volcanic eruption kills at least 69 people

At least 69 people were killed and hundreds wounded by the eruption of the Guatemalan volcano Fuego, the most violent in more than 40 years in the Central American country, authorities said.

The volcano on Sunday sank an 8-kilometer run of molten lava and a thick cloud of ash covered the surrounding areas, including Guatemala City, about 40 kilometers away, and the colonial tourist town of Antigua.

A new explosion and a landslide on the southern flank of Fuego occurred Monday and caused further evacuations.

Two million people have so far been affected by the eruption and its consequences, said Monday the National Agency for Disaster Management (CONRED).

The research was interrupted Monday afternoon in El Rodeo due to heavy rains and should resume Tuesday morning, said a spokesman for CONRED.

A small number of victims have been identified so far.

A security perimeter of 8 km has been established around the volcano, a Reuters journalist said.

“The landscape of the volcano is upset, everything is completely destroyed,” said vulcanologist Gustavo Chigna on Guatemalan radio.

This is the second eruption of the year for the Fuego, which rises to 3763 meters above sea level.

The first lava flow devastated the localities of El Rodeo, Alotenango and San Miguel los Lotes, where most of the victims were found.

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake also rocked the Guatemalan coast on Monday.

The Guatemalan president has declared a state of emergency in the Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepequez departments.

The eruption also forced the authorities to close the only runway at Guatemala’s La Aurora airport.