San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemala Gets One-Two Punch From Mother Nature

GUATEMALA CITY – A week of natural disasters has left 110 Guatemalans dead, according to official government sources.

The calamity started May 27 when Guatemala’s Pacaya Volcano erupted violently, killing two people, injuring some 67 others, destroying or damaging 800 homes, and covering this nearby capital city in ash.

The lava and ash cloud launched from the crater reached some 800 meters into the air, only 50 kilometers south of Guatemala City. Some 2,500 people were evacuated, the international airport was closed and three young girls were still missing at press time.

Before the ash could settle, Guatemala was pelted again by tropical storm “Agatha,” which dumped 110 millimeters of water on Guatemala in 12 hours, flooding large sections of the country and claiming 108 more lives. An additional 14 people were killed in flooding in Honduras and nine in El Salvador.

At press time, dozens of people were still missing, and the death count was expected to climb by as many as 50 more victims.

By Monday evening, the rains had dissipated and Pacaya Volcano had returned to what authorities consider “normal” levels of activity. Guatemala City’s InternationalAirport resumed normal operation by Tuesday afternoon.

Once the waters recede, the reconstruction efforts will begin.


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