All over the world, there have been many natural disasters that have claimed the lives of many, from earthquakes and floods to hurricanes and volcanoes. On June 3 Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupted, sending a pyroclastic flow that devoured coffee farms and a golf resort, descending even further to cause terror and destruction to all those it encountered.
The Fuego volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Central America and in the Ring of Fire chain. Volcan de Fuego, which means “Volcano of Fire”, erupted on Sunday, the most devastating eruption that the country has seen in four decades. Miles of thick plumes of ash were shot into the sky, raining down on nearby towns, covering them in a thick layer of ash and volcanic rock.
Dangerous flows of lava, ash and toxic gases continue to pour down several canyons below the crater of Volcan de Fuego, killing many people in its path of destruction. The violent eruption has claimed the lives of 109 people, with time running out for rescue chances. Thousands of people have been displaced and have sought refuge in shelters, with many of them mourning the loss of dead loved ones or holding onto a fading hope of finding missing family under the thick gray ash covering the stricken region. The rainfall that followed the eruption has made it difficult for rescuers to dig through the debris, rocks, and mud, and with many of the bodies already charred, heavy machinery will only result in tearing the corpses apart.
The most recent eruption of Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii that began just a month ago is a clear indication that volcanoes are significantly different, ranging in their ability to create destruction, loss of life and speed. In Hawaii, most of the lava has oozed from fissures, traveling at a slow pace, posing little threat to people. However, many houses and buildings have been destroyed by the lava’s chosen path.
The Fuego volcano’s eruptions, on the other hand, have been explosive and deadly, with fast-moving and scorching hot clouds of volcanic ash and gases that have claimed the lives of over 100 people with many more still missing. Typical lava flows do not kill people, as they move slow enough for you to get out of the way, but pyroclastic flows are dangerous with temperatures reaching as high as 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. One cannot hope to survive a pyroclastic, as the ash clouds can fall at speeds of 100 miles an hour or more, easily overtaking people trying to run away from its deadly path.
Alfonso Castillo, who lived with his extended family on a plot in Los Lotes, described the huge ash that came pouring down as a “sea” of muck that destroyed homes, people, pets, and wildlife.
“In a matter of three or four minutes the village disappeared,” Castillo said.
We need to take the time to include these people in our prayers, that our Father would have mercy on them and help those who are suffering from the destruction caused by the deadly volcano.
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