New pyroclastic flow at Fuego, death toll jumps to 75, nearly 200 missing, Guatemala

A new pyroclastic flow descended down the southeastern flank of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano on June 5, 2018. Ash plume rose to approximately 6 km (20 000 feet) above sea level. The death toll from Fuego’s eruption on June 3 reached 75 late June 5, with 192 people still missing.

The flow followed the same path as the one on Sunday, June 3, during Fuego’s worst eruption in decades and Guatemala’s deadliest since 1902 when an eruption of Santa Maria volcano killed thousands of people.

Sunday’s eruption came without warning just before midday (local time), sending deadly pyroclastic flows more than 10 km (6.2 miles) downslope and destroying entire villages. The same mixture of very hot gas and fast-moving volcanic material (pyroclastic flow) destroyed Italian city of Pompeii after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Pyroclastic flows can reach speeds of up to 700 km/h (430 mph) while its gases can reach temperatures of about 1 000 °C (1 830 °F).

More than 1.7 million people were affected by the eruption on Sunday, more than were 3 000 evacuated, at least 75 killed and nearly 200 left missing, as of Wednesday morning, June 6.

Rescue teams working in the rural community of San Miguel Los Lotes said they encountered 8 to 10 m (26 to 33 feet) high mounds of volcanic ash, adding that the most common cause of death was asphyxia, followed by burns.

“The houses became ovens, and the village a crematorium. There are no survivors,” a volunteer firefighter, Francisco Flores, told The Guardian.

“There is so much ash it’s like a massive beach but with trees and rocks thrown in, it’s terrible up there,” he said.

Featured image: Rescue workers escaping new pyroclastic flow descending down Guatemala’s Fuego volcano on June 5, 2018.

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