The eruption of Guatemala’s Volcan de Fuego led to the closure of the country’s main airport for several hours on Sunday, officials announced, who have not yet ordered the population to evacuate.
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Fuego, 3763 meters high and 35 kilometers from the capital Guatemala City, began a new eruption phase on Saturday evening with explosions, lava flows and ash projections, the National Institute of Volcanology announced.
La Aurora International Airport in the Guatemalan capital was “temporarily” closed mid-morning due to the “presence of ash” near the runway, the Directorate General of Civil Aeronautics said in a statement.
It resumed operations three hours later, at noon (6:00 pm GMT), civil aviation director Francis Argueta said. “We decided to resume operations because the north-south wind” dispersed the ash, Argueta said in a video posted on social media.
At least two flights scheduled to land at La Aurora, one from Miami (USA) and the other from Santo Domingo, were diverted due to the closure and other flights were delayed in take-off, aviation sources said.
In addition, a highway connecting the south and center of the country was closed Sunday due to the eruption of Volcan de Fuego (literally: “Volcano of Fire”), the most active volcano in Central America.
According to the Institute of Volcanology, the eruption sent a “hot fountain” of lava more than 300 meters from the crater and a column of ash more than two kilometers high, warning against new avalanches of combustible material.
In Alotenango, a local village nine kilometers east of the volcano, residents were alerted Saturday evening to a sudden eruption of lava that turned the sky red. “People are used to it and see it as normal,” 28-year-old Mayan farmer Demetrio Pamal told AFP.
Civil defense has not ordered preventive evacuations, but remains vigilant, spokesman Rodolfo García told AFP.
On June 3, 2018, Fuego caused an avalanche of combustible materials that swept away the town of San Miguel los Lotes and covered part of a road, killing 215 people and leaving the same number missing.
“With what happened in 2018, the authorities are more vigilant and more active,” said Jose Sul, another resident of Alotenango.
Two other volcanoes are also active in Guatemala: Santiaguito (west) and Pacaya, 20 km south of the capital.