Guatemala volcano eruption: Shocking pictures show horror of Fuego’s eruption
- Israel Montgomery
"It is important to remain calm because the Fuego volcano erupts throughout the year", said David de Leon, spokesman for the National Disaster Prevention Authority.
But there are huge differences between Guatemala's Fuego volcano eruption, which killed 25 people on Sunday, and Hawaii's recent Kilauea eruption, which hasn't killed anyone but keeps wreaking havoc one month later.
It was the second major eruption this year and at the start of the day, officials from CONRED Guatemala, the national disaster reduction authority, did not seem too anxious as Volcan de Fuego came back to life. Lava began flowing down the mountain's flank and across homes and roads around 4 p.m.
Survivors described the horror and destruction when the volcano erupted.
Videos showed a fast-moving flow destroying a bridge on a highway between Sacatepequez and Escuintla, and barefoot residents covered in muddy residue.
Volcan de Fuego, which means fire volcano, is one of Central America's most active.
Aviation authorities closed Guatemala City's worldwide airport because of the danger posed to planes, but the airport was reopened at mid-morning Monday after workers cleared away ash. "There are injured, burned and dead people", Sergio Cabanas, the general secretary of CONRED, said on radio. He added that 3,100 people had evacuated the area so far.
Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales declared three days of national mourning.
Disaster agency spokesman David de Leon says about 300 people have been evacuated from nearby villages, which are being blanketed by ash as fiery smoke billows almost four miles into the sky.
Authorities urged residents living near the volcano to evacuate immediately, and warned some in Chimaltenango, Sacatepequez and Escuintla states to watch out for volcanic rocks and ash.
The volcano, situated about 40 km south-west of Guatemala City has been spouting ash and black smoke into the sky, which has spread to the capital and other places, according to several media reports.
An ash-covered woman told the Diario de Centroamerica that lava had poured through corn fields and she thought more people may have died. Shelters were opened for those forced to flee.
The tremor struck around 105km (105,000 metres) south-west of Champerico, a port town popular with tourists on Guatemala's noth-west coast.
La Aurora airport in the country's capital of Guatemala City, was reportedly closed on Sunday due to the eruption, according to reports citing the Guatemalan Coordinating Agency for Disaster Reduction (CONRED).