While Americans have been working to wrap their minds around the volcanic eruption that occurred in Hawaii, leaving a path of destruction including hundreds of homes.
Luckily, for those in the area, the lava was moving at such a slow rate that residents were able to escape. While there is no arguing that there was an incredible amount of financial loss in the area, we can appreciate that the situation could have been so much worse!
Unfortunately, the recent volcanic eruption in Guatemala serves as a reminder to people around the globe that we should never underestimate the power of a volcano. Two eruptions have occurred to date at the Fuego volcano, which is located right by Guatemala City. Unlike the volcano in Hawaii, these explosive eruptions have created incredibly fast-moving clouds of volcanic ash and gasses, known as pyroclastic flows, resulting in a large loss of life.
The gasses in these clouds are usually between 390 and 1300 degrees Fahrenheit but have been known to exceed 1832 degrees Fahrenheit before. To add to the incredible concern, they generally move at speeds ranging anywhere from 50 to 450 miles per hour, making it impossible to get to safety if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This was the case for those who lived right at the foot of the volcano, as reports emerge describing entire towns and villages buried in volcanic ash, such as the town of San Miguel Los Lotes, which has been completely destroyed.
Rescue workers are hard at work in the area trying to recover bodies from the devastation, with 109 found to date and nearly 200 others still missing. For those that are waiting for the recovery of their loved ones, the news may not be promising. As the rescue teams continue to make their way through the tragic scene, they always able to do so carefully with the use of shovels, requiring larger equipment. Efrain Suarez, a 59-year-old truck driver that has been assisting with the rescue efforts explains, “Nobody is going to be able to get them out or say how many are buried here. The bodies are already charred and if heavy machinery comes in they will be torn apart.” This is made even more difficult by the high risk of mudslides containing volcanic material in the days to follow.
The two eruptions have now impacted over 1.7 million people in the area, with 12,000 currently evacuated to a number of relief centers, packed beyond capacity, where volunteers are able to provide food and emergency supplies to those in need. The images coming out of the area depict the mass destruction, shocking those of us who struggle to even imagine what it would be like to live through such devastation.