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Warning issued as lethal volcanic eruption closes airport

June 5, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

While Kilauea volcano in Hawaii continues to erupt, another volcano – this one in Guatemala – has burst into life, killing many people, burying houses, blasting ash and hot rocks into the air and closing the airport.

Guatemala’s Volcan de Fuego, Spanish for “volcano of fire,” erupted suddenly in the Central American country’s most violent volcanic eruption in over a century, belching a thick plume of black smoke while raining ash on the capital, Guatemala City.

Reports this morning said villages had been engulfed in fast-moving pyroclastic flows of molten lava and boiling mud. Dozens have died, with a confirmed death toll approaching 100 and many hundreds more injured. Hot ash is raining down on villages around the volcano and the sky has turned black.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advised: “On 3 June 2018, Volcan de Fuego erupted. Guatemala City’s international airport (La Aurora) shut down due to falling ash. Monitor local news. Check with your airline or tour operator before travelling to the airport. The level of the advice has not changed. Exercise a high degree of caution in Guatemala.”

US news channel CBS quoted an ash-covered woman describing her shock as a stream of molten lava poured through cornfields.

“Not everyone escaped, I think they were buried,” Consuelo Hernandez told local news outlet Diario de Centroamerica.

Guatemala’s civil aviation authority tweeted that volcanic ash had forced the closure of Guatemala City’s La Aurora international airport, which has only one runway.

The volcano is located 40km southwest of Guatemala City and is close to the colonial city of Antigua, popular with tourists.

MEANWHILE, IN HAWAII, about 12 people were reported stranded in an area cut off by lava following “vigorous eruptions” from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island.

As the Kilauea eruptions continue, Hawaii Civil Defence Service officials said a magnitude 5.5 earthquake shook the Kilauea summit on Sunday, sending an ash plume that reached up to about 2500 metres. Civil Defence workers have warned residents to take advantage of their last chance to evacuate before their final escape route is cut off by molten lava.

Authorities have evacuated three people by helicopter and plan to airlift more people out if the lava spreads farther.

Hawaii’s Big Island (and all the other Hawaiian islands) remain open for tourism. The eruption is so far confined to the Puna area of the Big Island where few tourists visit. Even so, Hawaii’s tourism industry is battling a wave of cancellations as people see houses burned down by red-hot lava in video footage like the clip below.

At least five cruise lines have altered Hawaii itineraries to omit the Big Island.

Written by Peter Needham

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