Guatemala struggles with aftermath of Fuego eruption

The eruption has turned parts of lush Guatemala into a moonscape
The eruption has turned parts of lush Guatemala into a moonscape
By Robert Hackwill
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Appeal goes out for help with reconstruction and salvage operation as fresh explosions and lava flows strike volcanic zone.


Rescue workers in Guatemala dealing with the deadly volcanic eruption of Mount Fuego, the most violent in more than 40 years, now have heavy rain and the prospect of mudslides bringing the unstable freshly-deposited ash down on them. Fresh explosions are heard from time to time, and new lava flows complicate things further.

"The work continues to be dangerous for people if we take into account the abundant volcanic material that exists and then also the rain, that could generate volcanic lahars or avalanches... and then, it is important to verify the situation in this sector, if the conditions stabilise to allow the rescue workers to come back here," said CONRED rescue agency spokeman David de León.

Subsoil temperatures hit up to 700 degrees during the height of the eruption, and now the search is well under way clearing the rubble of shattered homes, looking for bodies. The rebuilding task is enormous.

"This appeal is focused on issues of recovery and reconstruction, it is important now that the people who are sheltered and have been injured or traumatised can be reinserted into normal activity," added de León.

At least 99 people are known to have died and some 200 more are missing. Their chances of having survived in the superheated pyroclastic ash storm are slim to none.

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