On Sunday, Fuego volcano erupted in Guatemala killing dozens and leaving nearby resident covered in ash while they fled the billowing plumes.
The Sunday eruption shot up thick clouds of gray smoke almost six miles into the air, while rivers of red hot lava flowed down the volcano’s slopes, said the Guatemala government’s disaster relief agency CONRED.
The relief agency said that besides the deaths, at least another 20 people were injured, but those numbers could go up as several people were still not accounted for.
One survivor said that she believes some people were buried as she saw rivers of lava pouring into nearby cornfields and while running with her family to safety. She told CONRED officials that some of her relatives had been buried.
The president of Guatemala Jimmy Morales declared national mourning across the country for three days.
Thousands of people were evacuated from the area and search and rescue efforts continued through the night said the disaster agency’s director Sergio Garcia Cabanas. Over 1.7 million people were affected by the eruption said officials.
Authorities urged those residents who lived near the volcano to immediately evacuate warning some in the departments of Escuintla, Sacatepequez and Chimaltenango to be on the lookout for volcanic ash and rocks.
Officials asked residents to avoid certain roads that were closed due the eruption and added that residents must ensure that their water has not been contaminated.
The Ministry of Health said at least 12 children had been amongst 20 or more hospitalized with some suffering from severe burns.
The country’s National Institute of Seismology said the eruption was officially over late Sunday, but did warn new eruptions could occur and that residents in surrounding areas must remain on alert for any mudslides. Volcanic ash spread over a large radius and reached nearby Guatemala City with winds expected to carry it even further.
The La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City was closed on Sunday and remained closed through the night. Airport officials announced late Sunday night they would evaluate the situation early Monday morning before making a decision to reopen.
A golf resort is close to the base of the volcano and reports were that at least 14 tourists were trapped at the resort as they could not leave with others and the road to the resort has been closed due to the eruption.