Death toll in Guatemala volcano eruption reaches 69 (videos)

Authorities fear the number of dead will rise

The Fuego volcano in southern Guatemala erupted on Sunday, sending lava flows into nearby rural communities and spewing ash over people and towns. It was the country’s most deadly volcanic event in more than a century, leaving at least 69 dead as of Monday night, AP reports. Only 13 of the victims have been identified at this point.

The Fuego volcano erupted at about noon local time on Sunday. Thick clouds of smoke and ash billowed into the sky, and homes in nearby villages were engulfed by lava flows. Temperatures in the lava flow reached 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Eddy Sanchez, director of the country’s Seismology and Volcanology Institute. The institute said on Sunday evening that the eruption had ended but another one was possible.

The national disaster agency, CONRED, said the ash fall would affect 1.7 million people across the country of 15 million. More than 3,000 have been evacuated from areas threatened by the lava flows and photos show distressed locals fleeing barefoot and covered in mud and ash.
The death toll stood at 69 on Monday but was expected to rise, as authorities were unable to account for an unspecified number of people. Eighteen bodies were found in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes, according to disaster agency spokesman David de Leon. Photos of the village show bodies partially buried in ash.

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