At least 25 people have been killed and dozens injured, after the Volcan de Fuego in Guatemala erupted, shooting smoke and rocks 10 km into the air and forcing a mass exodus from nearby villages blanketed by ash.
Twenty-five people have been reported dead, mainly in the community of El Rodeo, the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction in Guatemala (Conred) confirmed, while at least another 20 were injured. Local reports indicate that some 2,000 people have fled the area.
At least two of the victims were children, who burned to death while standing on a bridge watching the eruption unfold, according to the head of Conred Sergio Cabanas.
After awakening on Sunday, and for the second time this year, the Volcan de Fuego (Volcano of Fire) has generated strong pyroclastic flows in the Barrancas de Cenizas, Mineral, Seca, Taniluya, Las Lajas and Barranca Honda localities.
After shooting up some 10,000 meters into the air, the residue “advanced more than 40 kilometers” with the direction of the wind, Conred said, noting that the eruption “generated strong reverberations with shock waves causing vibration in roofs and windows at a distance of 20 kilometers.”
Authorities urged those close to the crater to evacuate the area. The International Airport La Aurora closed its runway due to the volcanic ash as a precautionary measure.
The eruption, the strongest recorded in several years, is now affecting the municipalities of Antigua Guatemala, Alotenango, San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Santa Catarina Barahona, Ciudad Vieja, San Miguel Dueñas, Acatenango, San Andres Itzapa, Patzicia, Saragoza, Patzún and Tecpán Guatemala. Locals, meanwhile, have shared dramatic photos and videos showing a massive ash column reaching to the sky.