Volcanic Activity Threatens 500 Families in Guatemala

August 11, 2006

GUATEMALA CITY – The Pacaya Volcano, located 40 kilometers southwest of the Guatemalan capital, became more active Saturday and threatened some 500 families that live on its slopes, scientific authorities reported.

According to the National Seismology, Volcanology,Meteorology and Hydrology Institute (Insivumeh), the colossus that rises 2,562 meters above sea level has been active for several months, but in the past few days has increased its eruptions.

A column of smoke visible from the Guatemalan capital pours from the crater, from which at least three rivers of incandescent lava flow.

The Pacaya Volcano is one of the most active in Guatemala and on its slopes some 500 peasant farming families live in constant danger.

The town of San Vicente Pacaya has announced a “yellow alert” for the families there due to the rivers of lava just two kilometers from their dwellings.

Nonetheless, Insivumeh officials told reporters that the volcano’s activity is “normal” despite the recent eruptions.

Authorities have recommended that tourists refrain from climbing the volcano until the danger passes.

The last big eruption of the volcano was in 1998, when huge columns of ash reached the Guatemalan capital and forced the La Aurora International Airport to close for three days.

 

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