Volcano Eruption In Guatemala Kills At Least 33 A volcano in Guatemala erupted, raining ash and lava on surrounding communities and killing at least 33 people. Rescuers are working to reach communities cut off by the flow of lava.
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Volcano Eruption In Guatemala Kills At Least 33

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Volcano Eruption In Guatemala Kills At Least 33

Volcano Eruption In Guatemala Kills At Least 33

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Rescuers in Guatemala have saved at least 10 people from ash drifts and mudflows after the eruption of the volcano known as Fuego, Spanish for fire. The volcano exploded on Sunday, sending a river of hot gas and volcanic debris racing down the mountain's flank. Authorities say at least 62 people are known to have died, and that number is likely to rise. Maria Martin has this report from Guatemala.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED RESCUER: (Speaking Spanish).

MARIA MARTIN, BYLINE: This is the sound of rescue efforts in one of the most affected areas of Guatemala, the province of Escuintla, where a crew of volunteer firemen and other rescue workers are working to lift the remains of homes and trees to find bodies and hopefully survivors in the wreckage left by the lava flow in this community. The eruption left behind a blackened landscape still too hot to cross.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (Speaking Spanish).

MARTIN: "It's very hard to be here," this reporter for Telediario says in a live broadcast as he speaks to one of an army of rescue workers. Guatemala has some 27 volcanoes, only some active, Fuego among the most. People here are accustomed to periodic eruptions. But this has been an out-of-the-ordinary experience. Hilda Rodriguez was in Guatemala City when she noticed something was amiss.

HILDA RODRIGUEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

MARTIN: Hilda says she saw ash everywhere. Her eyes were burning, but she had no idea what was happening. Now everyone knows of Fuego's fury. Hardest hit of all has been the community of El Rodeo in the province of Escuintla, where a flow of lava and ash appears to have destroyed much of that community of some 500 families. Rescue workers are still finding bodies under the lava sludge and looking for survivors.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CONSUELO HERNANDEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

MARTIN: This woman, Consuelo Hernandez, was one of the survivors. She came running down the road ahead of the lava flow, covered with ash. Consuelo told Guatevision Television that there are still people missing in her community.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JIMMY MORALES: (Speaking Spanish).

MARTIN: President Jimmy Morales and Guatemala's first lady visited the province of Escuintla today asking for Guatemalans to stay calm and to pull together in this tragedy. It's estimated that this disaster has affected nearly 2 million Guatemalans. In addition to the scores of casualties, a list which is expected to grow, there are hundreds injured, including rescue workers and journalists hit by hot rocks. Many burn injuries are also reported, especially of people trying to run away from the lava flow.

Many in the worst-hit areas are very low-income people, and so their losses are magnified. Dozens of shelters for the homeless and for those who've been evacuated have been set up, many in the most affected areas, the provinces of Escuintla, Sacatepequez and Chimaltenango. For NPR News, I'm Maria Martin in Antigua, Guatemala.

(SOUNDBITE OF FINGERSPIT'S "THE RED STRINGS CLUB")

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