Guatemala volcano search called off with nearly 200 unaccounted for
By Agence France-Presse
Authorities on Sunday called off a search for the nearly 200 people missing since Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupted earlier this month, devastating the surrounding countryside.
Officials have confirmed the deaths of 110 people as a result of the volcanic eruption on June 3, but another 197 remain unaccounted for.
A spokesman for the government’s civil protection agency, David de Leon, said the agencies involved decided to end the search “due to the fact that the area is uninhabitable and of high risk.”
The volcano, 35 kilometers (about 22 miles) southwest of the capital, is still generating four or five weak explosions an hour, sending a column of gray ash more than 3,000 feet (1,000 meters) into the sky.
Guatemala’s south-central region was also shaken on Sunday night by a 5.8-magnitude earthquake with its epicenter at Iztapa, on the Pacific coast near neighboring El Salvador, the civil protection agency said.
There were no reports of injuries or damage.
Additionally, rains were forecast for Sunday, posing a danger of volcanic mudflows.
More than 3,600 villagers have been forced to take temporary refuge in schools and community halls.
The suspended search had been focused on the hardest-hit communities of San Miguel Los Lotes and El Recreo.
The only exception to the suspension is in the area of Alotenango, where volunteer firefighters continued to search for two colleagues who went missing on the day of the disaster.