Death toll rises to 99 at Guatemala volcano

Sergio Conner
June 10, 2018

While the poor visibility delayed villagers' own reactions to the impending danger, 27 miles (43 km) away in Guatemala City, disaster authorities failed to understand the magnitude of the eruption, meaning the alert level leading to mandatory evacuations was not raised quickly enough, the heads of the responsible government agencies admitted on Wednesday.

Guatemalan prosecutors ordered an investigation into whether emergency protocols were followed properly, as many residents were caught with little or no time to evacuate.

Some 200 people are said to be missing, so the final toll is likely to be even higher. The church has a mission in nearby Antigua, where church officials have been sending truckloads of supplies.

The suspension of rescue efforts around the volcano may be lifted if conditions on the ground improve, CONRED said. She adds that it's "not right" to leave their bodies there. "They did not care and they did not take precautions".

Authorities in Guatemala are evaluating whether it's safe to resume the search for survivors and the dead on the third day after a volcanic eruption devastated several small towns.

Perez D. reported from Escuintla and Stevenson reported from San Miguel Los Lotes.

Troublesome downpours and more volcanic activity had been hindering searches, but when teams have been able to work in the hardest hit areas, the death toll has continued to tick upward.

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Still-hot volcanic material and the threat of heavy rains displacing loose deposits were posing a serious risk to the safety of emergency workers, said agency spokesman David de Leon.

A U.S. Air Force C-17 has carried six Guatemalan children who were badly burned in a volcanic eruption to Texas for treatment.

"My father, my mother, my sisters are there", she said, upset over rescuers' decision to suspend their search.

The institute warned people Wednesday to be alert and avoid the area.

Burn victims from Guatemala have arrived in Galveston to be treated at Shriners Pediatric Burn Hospital.

Fears of a new blowup of the 3,763-meter (12,346-foot) volcano have stalked rescue workers since Sunday's eruption buried entire villages on its southern flank.

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