THE FIRST funerals have been held in Guatemala of those killed by the devastating eruption of the Fuego volcano. The search continues for at least 200 more who are missing, feared dead.
The volcano, one of Central America’s most active volcanoes, erupted on Sunday causing a huge ash cloud of volcanic matter and hot gases, which cascaded down the mountain and destroyed everything in its path. It was the most violent eruption in a century for Guatemala. Fuego sits on the Ring of Fire, a horseshoe-shaped series of volcanoes, earthquake sites, and tectonic plates around the Pacific, which spreads from the southern tip of South America to New Zealand.
Rescuers were still trying to reach some of the villagers affected three days after the event; on Tuesday, their efforts had to stop when a new eruption sent molten rock and hot gas streaming down the side of the volcano. Thousands of people are living in temporary shelters, including churches, having fled their homes and villages. By Wednesday, 75 people had been confirmed dead, but aid agencies fear hundreds still lie buried in the thick ash. Three days of national mourning have been declared.
The Pope has sent prayers to the country, and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Escuintla, Mgr Victor Hugo Palma Paul, whose diocese was most affected by the devastating eruption, appealed for international help for victims.
Bishop Palma Paul said that the area affected was densely populated by farmers and small-scale food producers. In Escuintla, the villages of Los Lotes and El Rodeo have been buried in ash and debris. The diocese’s cathedral has been turned into a reception centre for those who have lost their homes or family members and the Bishop has asked all churches to hold a special collection on Sunday to provide funds to buy essential items for victims.
The Anglican Bishop of Guatemala, the Most Revd Armando Guerra Soria, said that there were three Anglican congregations in the area affected by the volcanic eruption. “The Church is collecting food, blankets, and other goods for the people,” he said.
ReutersPeople made homeless by the eruption shelter in church, on Monday