One of Central America’s most beautiful places is suffering. These images will hopefully raise awareness about what is happening.
The Fuego Volcano, located some 50 kilometers from Guatemala’s capital, is one of the most amazing, awe-inspiring, and active stratovolcanoes in Central America. Its eruptions are known for being violent and terrifying. In fact, it’s said that conquistador Pedro de Alvarado saw one of its eruptions in 1524, confirming the reason for its name in the native language: Chi’gag, the place of fire.
In Guatemala, the region is a popular tourist destination. For instance, there’s the Sacatepéquez department, a town that includes the Antigua Guatemala, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. It’s a small slice of Central America that boasts unparalleled Renaissance architecture, an extraordinary Baroque cathedral, and colonial urban planning, as is the norm in Latin America.
There is also the Escuintla Department, a tropical region dotted with amazing farms and estates that take visitors’ breath away and provide residents with coffee, cardamom, and sugarcane. And there’s Chimaltenango, a place rich in culture and nature that makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Guatemala.
Last Sunday, June 3rd, the Fuego Volcano had its most violent eruption in 40 years. Rivers of flame and fire, and a rain of volcanic ashes took over the Guatemalan skies.
The pyroclastic flow (a fast-moving current of hot gas and rock) made its way down the volcano and reached the town of Sangre de Cristo and the San Pedro Yepocapa municipality. The village of San José El Rodeo in Escuitnla was the most affected.
At least 25 people have died, 46 people are critically injured (some have third-degree burns), 1.7 million have been affected, and more than 3 thousand have been evacuated.
As of today, there are people reported missing. El Rodeo is practically buried.
Some people were able to escape, but they have confirmed that others (their own relatives even) didn’t even have a chance to react. According to their testimonies, some people saw the lava flowing down the streets. Local news reports warn that there are dead bodies trapped in the current of flowing lava and mud.
There are already teams of rescue workers in the area.
As well as makeshift morgues.
The streets are filled with volunteers.
The airport has suspended operations, and the military is making sure it is in working order.
The streets are covered in ashes, families are staying at temporary shelters, and dozens of people are waiting outside the morgues to identify their loved ones.
The skies of Guatemala have undergone an extreme transformation in the last couple of days. We now wait to see how the local and neighboring governments will react, what measures will be taken so that the people can go back to normal, even though we know that such a thing might not be possible.
Photos taken from the BBC, El Comercio, and El País.
Translation by Zoralis Pérez