International
0

Guatemala Volcano Death Toll Hits Over 100

Guatemala Volcano Death Toll Hits Over 100Guatemala Volcano Death Toll Hits Over 100

Rescuers have suspended search and recovery efforts at villages devastated by the eruption of Guatemala's Volcano of Fire, prompting people with missing loved ones to do the risky work themselves with rudimentary tools.

The death toll from a series of eruptions that began on Sunday has been gradually rising and now stands at over 100, police said, ABC News reported on Friday.

Conred, the country's national disaster agency, said climatic conditions and still-hot volcanic material was making it dangerous for rescuers, and it was also taking into account that 72 hours had passed since Sunday's eruption.

That is the window beyond which officials had said it would be extremely unlikely to find any survivors amid the ash, mud and other debris that buried homes up to their rooftops.

Oscar Chavez trekked over a mountain with his father and younger brother to search for his brother Edgar, sister-in-law Sandra and nephew Josue in the hamlet of San Miguel Los Lotes, which was almost entirely wiped out by the volcanic flows. They have not been heard from since the eruption.

"We looked for them in shelters, hospitals, everywhere, but we did not find them," said Chavez, 34, as the others used sticks and a machete to try to tear down a wall and the metal corrugated roof of a home.

About 10 police officers saw what the family was doing and came to help, bringing more robust tools.

At a shelter set up in a school in the nearby city of Escuintla, workers fastened colorful ID bracelets on the wrists of people who are among several thousand displaced by the eruption.

Rescue teams have been searching frantically for survivors and victims in the lava-ravaged landscape.

The violent eruptions showered volcanic ash over nearby towns and spewed pyroclastic flows throughout the area.

>Emergency Needs Enormous

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) raised concerns about the economic cost of the disaster in the poor Central American country.

"We should not underestimate the scale of this disaster," IFRC president Francesco Rocca said in a statement on Thursday.

"Critical, emergency needs are still enormous, and affected communities will need sustained and long-term support."

Rocca noted that ash had fallen across more than half of Guatemala, covering areas where agriculture is crucial.

The IFRC has pledged more than 250,000 Swiss francs ($334,510) to support rescue efforts, and said those worst hit would need at least a year to recover.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints

Financialtribune.com