Disasters & Accidents

Pacaya volcano fires ash 3,200 meters into the air

Guatemala City, Feb 21 (efe-epa).- Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano continued to erupt Sunday with explosions sending ash columns 3,200 meters into the air, warned the National Institute for Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology (Insivumeh).

In its most recent bulletin, Insivumeh warned that the volcano’s high level of activity is accompanied by ashfall on villages more than 25 kilometers away, as well as lava flow.

Located 60 kilometers south of Guatemala City, the explosions could be observed from the capital, according to EFE.

Pacaya, a stratovolcano with an elevation of 2,552 meters, also caused rumbles and vibrations around the surrounding areas and villages located on its slopes, while ballistic material fell about 500 meters around the crater.

The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred) recommended departmental and municipal authorities to keep La Paya National Park closed to tourists and asked for support in monitoring.

“For the moment, no evacuations have been reported, however, in the event of any additional increase, municipal authorities could initiate this action together with community leaders,” Conred spokesman David de León told EFE.

The civil protection entity warned the population that the volcanic activity of Pacaya has continued to increase in recent weeks, so a rise in activity in the next hours or days, possibly “with greater emission of columns of ash and explosions with ballistic fall or even the emergence of new lava flows on the flanks around the volcanic cone,” is not ruled out.

Pacaya, located in the departments of Guatemala and Escuintla, is one of the three most active volcanoes of the 32 in the Central American country. The others are Fuego, which is located between the departments of Guatemala, Escuintla and Chimaltenango, and Santiaguito in Quetzaltenango.

The civil protection authorities had warned of an increase in the activity of the Pacaya volcano on Jan. 1 and also in October and November 2020 and consider that it is within the range of a possible eruptive phase, such as the one that manifested in May 2010.

The last major eruption of a volcano in Guatemala occurred on June 3, 2018, when Fuego took the lives of 202 people and left another 229 missing. EFE-EPA


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