Guatemala On Alert After Fuego Spews Lava And Ash
May 21, 2012

Guatemala On Alert After Fuego Spews Lava And Ash

Guatemalan authorities raised an alert after the country´s most active volcano, Fuego, began spewing lava and columns of ash into the air at around 2:45 a.m. (0745 GMT) on May 19.

Fuego, which overlooks the tourist hotspot of Antigua, shot ash 16,400 feet into the air and spewed lava 1,300 feet high and up to 3,280 feet long, according to a statement by Guatemala´s National Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology Institute.

The disaster agency´s David de Leon said an alert was raised because the volcano is in an effusive stage. The alert involves closing nearby roads, rerouting air traffic, installing monitoring equipment and readying emergency personnel.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation, DGCA has advised air traffic to avoid flights within a radius of 25 to 30 miles or more in the perimeter of Fuego.

According to the National Coordinator of Disaster Reduction (CONRED), several families in the vicinity of the volcano have been evacuated. But while there has yet been no ordered evacuations in Antigua, de Leon said there could be if the activity level increases on Fuego.

CONRED reported later that the volcano was seen in a declining phase or energy release. With the aid of local reports and a camera placed in the Panimache Observatory, CONRED will be able to monitor the event closely. There is a constant threat of falling ash on several communities in the area.

Another report stated the volcano produced abundant pyroclastic flows depositing material into ravines and generating lahars causing damage to the road network.

Researchers are also looking into a possible negative effect on crops and livestock in the area where there is a constant rain of volcanic ash.

The four active volcanoes on Guatemala have a history of causing shutdowns. The eruption of Pacava volcano 25 miles south of Guatemala City in 2010 coated the city in a thick layer of ash and rock, forcing hundreds of families to flee the area.