San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

While Guatemalan president visits Costa Rica, a volcano forces ‘massive evacuation’ back home

Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina had some bad timing with his visit to Costa Rica on Thursday.

While meeting in San José with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla about regional security this afternoon, a volcano erupted in Guatemala, forcing a “massive evacuation” of thousands people.

Otto Perez

Guatemala’s Otto Pérez Molina met with President Laura Chinchilla at the Foreign Ministry in San José.

Alberto Font

Alejandro Maldonado, head of the Disaster Relief Network, said in a statement that the Fuego Volcano, located 40 kilometers southwest of the capital, is spewing lava and ash 600 meters below, forcing the evacuation of communities close to the base of the volcano. The number of evacuees is estimated to be close to 33,000 people.  

Volcano Fuego is one of the most active in Central America, but a local volcanologist said eruptions are rarely this powerful.

“This type of eruption is abnormal, and we have not observed it for years,” said Gustavo Chigná of Guatemala’s Volcanology Institute.

Chinchilla and Pérez Molina will have a joint press conference scheduled for 2:30 p.m. to discuss their meeting. No announcement has been made yet about whether the volcano will affect their plans.

AFP contributed to this report

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