Giant clouds of superheated smoke and ash burned people alive and buried entire towns in a deadly volcanic eruption in Guatemala that killed almost 100 people.
Shocking satellite photos of before and after Sunday’s eruption show whole suburbs wiped off the map as hundreds of houses collapsed when tons of falling ash crushed them.
What was once a collection of green canyons, hillsides and farms was reduced to grey devastation by fast-moving avalanches of super-heated muck that roared into the tightly knit villages on the mountain’s flanks.
Volcan de Fuego, meaning ‘Volcano of Fire’ spewed a ‘curtain’ of ash 20,000ft into the air and sent rapid pyroclastic flows through at least seven nearby towns in the biggest eruption for four decades.
A secondary eruption of the volcano on Tuesday blew ash more than 16,000ft above sea level and sent more volcanic material over settlements to the east and northeast, reports El Periodico.
Rescuers have dug 99 bodies out of the ash and rubble, only 28 of whom have been identified, with at least 197 people still missing with little hope of survival.
More than 1.7 million people we affected by the eruption with 12,000 evacuated to overflowing relief centers were volunteers gave out food and emergency supplies.
Farm worker Alfonso Castillo, 33, said his village of San Miguel Los Lotes was completely obliterated by what he described as a ‘sea’ of muck that came crashing into homes, inundating people, pets and wildlife.
‘In a matter of three or four minutes the village disappeared,’ he said.
Firefighters said temperatures just below the surface of the disaster areas were still as high as 750F to 1,300F, making rescues difficult and extremely dangerous.
‘Nobody is going to be able to get them out or say how many are buried here,’ Efrain Suarez said, standing amid the smoking holes dotting what used to be the village of San Miguel Los Lotes on the flanks of the mountain.
‘The bodies are already charred,’ the 59-year-old truck driver said. ‘And if heavy machinery comes in they will be torn apart.’
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it released more than $253,446 from its global emergency fund to support frontline emergency efforts.
These funds will help ‘Guatemala Red Cross support 3,000 of the most vulnerable survivors for three months,’ they added.
In addition, the Mexican government said on Wednesday evening that it would send a team of medical specialists and, if necessary, transfer victims of the volcano to hospitals in Mexico.
The 3,763-meter (12,346-feet) Volcan de Fuego is one of several active volcanoes among 34 in the Central American country. It lies near the colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site that has survived several major eruptions.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
June 8th, 2018