Preventive evacuations affecting some 2000 people were launched early on Monday, November 19 (local time), amid increased activity at the Fuego Volcano. The evacuations are taking place in communities in the vicinity of the volcano in the departments of Escuintla, Sacatepéquez, and Chimaltengo. A red alert has been issued for Escuintla municipality.
The volcano entered into an eruptive stage on Sunday, the fifth of the year, releasing ash into the air and some lava flow. 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.
A major eruption occurred at the Fuego Volcano on June 3. 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 the INSIVUMEH (National Institute for Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology).
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. The June 3 eruption was the most intense in more than 40 years. 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 until the situation stabilizes, 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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