Guatemala volcano eruption kills 1, leaves 3 children missing

Friday, May 28, 2010

1 dead, 3 missing in Guatemala volcano eruption

GUATEMALA CITY — Rocks spewing from a volcano overlooking the Guatemalan capital killed a television reporter, authorities said Friday. Three children are missing.

The Pacaya volcano started erupting lava and rocks on Thursday afternoon, blanketing Guatemala City with ash and forcing the closure of the international airport. President Alvaro Colom declared a “state of calamity.”

Television reporter Anibal Archila was hit by a shower of rocks when he got too close to the volcano, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of Guatemala City, said David de Leon, a spokesman for the national disaster committee.

He said three children between the ages of seven and 12 were missing.

At least 1,600 people from villages closest to the volcano have been evacuated to shelters.

Two to three inches (Five to 7.5 centimeters) of ash accumulated on streets in some southern parts of the city, and officials imposed limits on trucks and motorcycles to help speed up traffic slowed by the ash.

The government urged residents not to leave their homes unless there was an urgent need.

The most active of Guatemala’s 32 volcanos, Pacaya has been intermittently erupting since 1966, and tourists frequently visit areas near three lava flows formed in eruptions between 1989 and 1991.

In 1998, the 8,373-foot (2,552-meter) volcano twice spewed plumes of ash, forcing evacuations and shutting down the airport in Guatemala City.

will not be displayed