Fuego Volcano Erupts in Guatemala, Killing 25 and Injuring Hundreds

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A volcano erupted near Guatemala’s capital on Sunday, killing at least 25 people and leaving many more missing, officials and the local news media reported.

Volcán de Fuego exploded on Sunday morning, and volcanic ash was later seen billowing in the area:

The volcano sits less than 30 miles from the capital, Guatemala City, which has a population of about three million people.

Reuters quoted officials as saying on Sunday that 3,100 people had been evacuated and nearly 300 injured. The capital’s airport was also closed because of the danger that ash posed to aircraft, Reuters reported, citing Guatemala’s Civil Aviation Authority.

A Guatemalan disaster official, Sergio Cabañas, said on Sunday that officials would work as long as it took to evacuate people from around the volcano.

Photos published by the Guatemalan news media showed emergency workers rescuing ash-covered survivors:

Janine Krippner, a volcanologist in West Virginia, noted on Twitter that the Guatemala eruption was unlike the continuing lava flows at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano because it was spewing what scientists call “pyroclastic flows” — quickly moving avalanches that can be “devastating and deadly.”

The United States Geological Survey defines a pyroclastic flow as a “chaotic mixture of rock fragments, gas and ash” that can reach temperatures of several hundred degrees Celsius and travel at a speed of tens of meters per second. It says the combination of speed and high temperature makes such flows particularly dangerous and deadly.

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