Guatemala’s volcano survivors search for safety amid new eruptions, mudslide threats

World Today

Emergency crews in Guatemala are racing against the clock in an effort to find survivors of Sunday’s volcanic eruption.

The official death toll has reached 99, but more than 100 are still missing.

Thousands of people who were able to escape are searching for food, water and shelter.

But officials said not every place that *seems* safe — is.

CGTN’s Harris Whitbeck reports.

Villagers line up on the side of a road to receive water, instant noodles, packages of diapers and rudimentary medical supplies.

For some this is the first aid they have received since a deadly cloud of hot ash and gas engulfed the area of El Rodeo on the slopes of the Fuego volcano last Sunday.

The eruption, the deadliest since 1974, has killed dozens and left hundreds missing.

Rescue workers continue trying to unearth bodies buried under the hot ash, their efforts continuously interrupted by calls to evacuate..

The volcano has not stopped rumbling and each new explosion brings the possibility of more destruction.

The village of Lucerna, normally home to some 300 families, has seen its population double in the last two days.

People living in outlying hamlets have gathered here where they can get a hot meal and receive desperately needed packs of clean water and other supplies

“With the help of the community, we’re using every large building, the church, the school to shelter those who’ve lost their homes,” said village leader Manuel Argueta.

And new arrivals continue to trickle in hoping to find safe haven, nervous about the possibility of new volcanic activity or heavy rainstorms.

But safety is an illusion. The problem with this settlement is that it is in a deep valley that would be vulnerable to mudslides or lava flow should the volcano act up again or should the rains come.

Rescue officials have been scouring the area trying to convince the residents of the villages around here  to get out while it is still safe. It is not an easy task.

“People here in San Felipe refuse to leave and that is why we are here,” said this emergency worker.  “ We have food and supplies for those who stay but it is dangerous here.”

Many families do not want to leave their houses fearing their meager belongings will be stolen

“It worries me very much this,” said Marcela Lopez. “This a dangerous place and we have to convince everyone to leave before it is too late.”

Meanwhile, efforts to recover more bodies at the site of the worst destruction continue as hope diminishes of finding anyone alive, and shelters fill up as more villagers heed the call to evacuate their homes.

Victor Farrell has the latest updates on the Guatemalan Volcano

For the latest on the natural disaster in Guatemala and how the volcano eruption is impacting the people, CGTN’s Asieh Namdar spoke with team leader OX Expeditions and OX Founder, Victor Farrell.