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Volcano activity leads to temporary airport closure in Guatemala

Monday, December 12th 2022 - 09:53 UTC
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Some 215 people died in 2018 when the Fuego volcano erupted, but so far no evacuations have been ordered Some 215 people died in 2018 when the Fuego volcano erupted, but so far no evacuations have been ordered

Guatemala City's La Aurora International Airport was closed temporarily Sunday due to “the presence of ashes” from the nearby Fuego volcano, it was reported. The air terminal resumed operations three hours later after the wind shifted “to the south,” according to Civil Aeronautics Director Francis Argueta.

The 3,763-meter-high Fuego volcano, located about 35 kilometers from Guatemala City, began a new eruptive phase late on Saturday.

The closure forced the diversion of two flights bound for La Aurora, one from Miami and the other from Santo Domingo, in addition to delaying several departures.

Two sections of Route RN-14 near the city of Antigua, Guatemala's colonial capital and the country's main tourist center, were closed on a preventive basis. The highway connecting the south and center of the country was also closed for almost 12 hours due to the eruption of the most active volcano in Central America, but vehicle traffic resumed in the afternoon when volcanic activity decreased. “The team of the volcanology section [...] is in a meeting to define if the activity [of the volcano] can be considered over or if it is in pause,” volcanology expert Edgar Estrada told AFP.

Fuego's new eruptive phase has been marked by strong explosions, ash expulsion, lava flows, and burning material. The eruption maintains an “incandescent source” of lava over 300 meters above the crater and a column of ash rising over two kilometers from the summit. Authorities have also warned about possible more avalanches of burning material down the slopes and ravines, but no evacuations have been undertaken for now.

The Fuego volcano has the reputation of being the most active volcano in Central America. In 1524, Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado was the first European to see this volcano erupt. In 1932, an eruption sent ashes eastward that reached El Salvador (125 km away) and Honduras (175 km away). On June 3, 2018, the Fuego volcano caused an avalanche of burning material that wiped out the town of San Miguel Los Lotes and covered part of the road that was closed Sunday, leaving 215 dead and just as many people missing. The Fuego volcano borders the dormant Acatenango volcano (3,500 meters above sea level). In addition, Guatemala's Santiaguito (west) and Pacaya (south) volcanoes are also active.

Categories: Environment, Latin America.
Tags: Guatemala, Volcano.

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