…death toll now stands at 109
By Bartholomew Madukwe with Agency report
Guatemalan officials have called for caution with flights following falling ash from the Fuego volcano late on Thursday.
This was as Guatemala’s disaster and forensic agency said the death toll from Fuego’s most violent eruption in four decades has gradually risen and now stands at 109.
Seismological, volcanic and meteorological institute Insivumeh advised the country’s civil aviation authority to take precautions with flights amid renewed activity from the peak, which produced a massive eruption on Sunday, reports Reuters.
Volcan de Fuego, which means “Volcano of Fire” in Spanish, lies about 25 miles (40 km) southwest of the capital, Guatemala City.
Meanwhile, authorities have said a communication breakdown between the Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (CONRED) and volcanologists in Guatemala delayed evacuations from the surrounding area.
“The suspension of rescue efforts around the volcano may be lifted if conditions on the ground improve,” CONRED asserted.
Guatemala’s public prosecutor noted it would open an investigation into whether protocols were followed to inform proper decision-making in the handling of the disaster.Rescue teams have been searching frantically for survivors and victims in the ravaged landscape, which is covered in ash and lava.
The eruptions have showered volcanic ash over a vast area and spewed deadly, fast-moving pyroclastic flows through nearby towns.
U.S. GOVERNMENT EXPRESSES CONDOLENCES
The U.S. government has expressed its “deepest condolences” to the victims on Thursday and said it was sending emergency aid at Guatemala’s request, including an unspecified amount of financial resources to help with food, water, and sanitation.
The White House said in a statement it was also dispatching aircraft to transport burn victims for treatment in Florida.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) raised concerns about the economic cost of the disaster in the poor country.
“We should not underestimate the scale of this disaster. Critical, emergency needs are still enormous, and affected communities will need sustained and long-term support. We hope it will not mean a secondary disaster,” IFRC President Francesco Rocca said in a statement.
Rocca explained that ash had fallen across more than half of Guatemala, covering areas where agriculture is crucial.
IFRC PLEDGES OVER $253,000 FOR RESCUE OPERATIONS IN GUATEMALA
The IFRC has pledged more than 250,000 Swiss francs ($253,000) to support rescue efforts and said those worst hit would need at least a year to recover.
SIBLINGS STILL MISSING- Oscar Chávez
Oscar Chávez trekked over a mountain with his father and younger brother to search for his brother Edgar, sister-in-law Sandra and four-year-old nephew Josué in the hamlet. They have not We looked for them in shelters, hospitals, everywhere, but we did not find them,” said Chávez, 34, wiping a tear from his eye as the others used sticks and bits of broken boards to dig at the collapsed, ash-filled home.
“So, better for us to come here.”
Chávez’s younger brother, Francisco Chávez, a 29-year-old accounting student, was angry that there were no longer any disaster workers at the scene while a little way downhill heavy machinery was being used to clear a road blocked by ash.