One of Central America’s most active volcano Volcan de Fuego erupted on Sunday, killing at least seven people and injuring 20 while a towering cloud of smoke blanketed nearby villages in heavy ash in Guatemala — authorities say the death toll could rise.
The volcanic eruption spewed a river of red, hot lava and belched thick clouds of smoke nearly six miles into the air, according to the CONRED, the government’s national coordinator for disaster reduction. The explosion stands to affect 1.7 million people, said Sergio García Cabañas, director of CONRED. More than 3,100 people have been evacuated from their homes while search and rescue efforts continue into the night, Cabañas said.
The volcano, whose name means fire, is one of Central America’s most active. It is located near the colonial city of Antigua. Sunday’s explosion rained soot over the popular tourist destination and other villages in the Sacatepéquez department, covering them in ash.
Villages south of the volcano in the Escuintla department were affected, too, Cabañas said. Lesser amounts of ash reached the capital of Guatemala City some 25 miles away, forcing the closure of its international airport. The Guatemalan Army shared images of officers clearing the runway with push brooms.