A powerful volcanic eruption less than 30 miles from Guatemala’s capital Sunday killed at least 25 people and injured 20, sending a giant plume of ash and smoke almost 15,000 feet into the sky.
The eruption of Guatemala’s Volcan de Fuego forced federal authorities to declare a nationwide state of emergency Sunday. More than 3,000 people have been evacuated from the surrounding area and Guatemala City’s airport has been closed, authorities said. More than 1.7 million people could be affected by the eruption.
“Currently the volcano is still rumbling and there is a greater potential for mud avalanches,” Eddy Sánchez, head of Guatemala’s seismic agency, said on Twitter.
Rescue workers, firefighters and soldiers were searching for an undetermined number of missing people. Authorities fear the death toll could rise. Rainfall is complicating rescue work, and lava flows have cut road access to some communities, authorities said.
Photographs posted by Guatemalan police and civil defense officials showed officers carrying ash-covered children on their backs, and houses blanketed by mud and ash.
The explosions of ash and molten rock hit the village of El Rodeo and other nearby communities were also affected in the states of Escuintla, Sacatepéquez and Chimaltenango.
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