GUATEMALA CITY – Nearly 4,000 people have been evacuated from several villages in southern Guatemala near the Fuego (Fire) volcano, whose fifth eruption this year poses a threat to more than 76,000 residents, emergency management officials said Monday.
A maximum (red) alert was declared Monday in the southern province of Escuintla due to ongoing powerful eruptions, the deputy director of the Conred national emergency management office, Walter Monroy, said at a press conference.
Conred had said earlier that it has responded to 24 incidents in Escuintla (11) and the adjacent provinces of Sacatepequez (six) and Chimaltenango (seven).
The agency said that 3,419 people – out of a total of 3,925 total evacuees – have been relocated from villages in Escuintla, where three shelters have received about 2,000 people.
The latest eruption of the Fuego volcano, located 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Guatemala City, affects 76,145 residents, Conred said.
Official Conred vehicles and private automobiles have been mobilized to transport families, most of them to a stadium in Escuintla province where the Defense Ministry has set up tents to shelter the evacuees.
The agency said that 300 families in the Escuintla village of Chuchu were refusing to leave their homes despite warnings from authorities.
Deadly pyroclastic flows from the volcano have been streaming down its slopes, while ash from the eruptions has reached a height of 5,200 meters (17,000 feet), the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology (Insivumeh) said.
The Fuego volcano has erupted four other times this year.
On June 3, 2018, the fire mountain spewed hot lava, ash and debris onto communities living in its shadow, killing at least 190 people.