Thousands of residents who were evacuated from the vicinity of the Fuego Volcano began to return on Tuesday, November 20, amid a lessening of volcanic activity. Though the volcano was still emitting some ash and rock on Tuesday, the National Institute for Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology, and Hydrology (INSIVUMEH) announced that most volcanic activity had diminished by Monday evening (local time).
In the event of an intensification, pyroclastic flows - a dangerous mix of ash, rock, and volcanic gases - would be possible, along with flight disruptions at Guatemala City's La Aurora International Airport (GUA) - located approximately 40 km (25 mi) northwest of the volcano.
The volcano entered into an eruptive stage on November 18, the fifth of the year, spewing lava and releasing ash into the air. A major eruption occurred on June 3, the most intense in more than 40 years. At least 190 people were killed and a total of 1.7 million people were affected in total. The emergency response agency CONRED had been heavily criticized for not warning the population of the impending eruption despite receiving warnings from INSIVUMEH.
The Fuego Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in Latin America, has been in a state of increased activity since 2015, with some 15 eruptive phases per year on average. A total of 32 volcanoes are present in Guatemala, including three that show consistent signs of activity: Fuego, Pacaya, and Santiaguito.
Individuals present in Guatemala are advised to avoid the vicinity of the volcano, monitor the situation, adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities (e.g. evacuation orders), and wear respiratory masks and covering clothing to protect skin from ash fall in affected areas.
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