Guatemalan

Guatemala volcano death toll up to 69

MNA International Desk: Guatemalan authorities have increased the confirmed death toll from the eruption of the Volcano of Fire to 69 as officials suspended the search until dawn on Tuesday.

Fanuel Garcia is the director of Guatemala’s National Institute of Forensic Sciences and he announced the higher death toll late Monday. He said only 17 of the dead have been identified so far.

The burning ash and mud that engulfed villages on the volcano’s flanks Sunday left many victims unrecognizable. They will have to be identified through DNA testing or other means.

A lack of electricity in the most heavily hit zone makes safely searching at night impossible, reported news agency.

Rescuers pulled survivors and bodies from the charred aftermath of the powerful eruption of Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire a disaster that caught residents of remote mountain hamlets off guard, with little or no time to flee to safety.

Using shovels and backhoes, emergency workers dug through the debris and mud, perilous labour on smouldering terrain still hot enough to melt shoe soles a day after the volcano exploded in a hail of ash, smoke and molten rock.

Bodies were so thickly coated with ash that they looked like statues, and rescuers were forced to use sledgehammers to break through the roofs of houses buried in debris up to their rooflines to try to see if anyone was trapped inside.

In the afternoon, Fanuel Garcia, director of the National Institute of Forensic Sciences, said 62 bodies had been recovered and 13 of those had been identified. Guatemala’s national disaster agency later raised the toll to 69.

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