The Latest: Guatemala Says 109 Confirmed Dead From Volcano

Posted at 9:23 PM, Jun 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-07 21:23:03-04

SAN MIGUEL LOS LOTES, Guatemala (AP) – The latest on the eruption of Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire (all times local):

5:50 p.m.

Guatemalan officials say 109 deaths have now been confirmed from this week’s eruption of the Volcano of Fire.

The National Institute of Forensic Sciences says in a statement that 10 bodies were received by morgues on Thursday, adding to the previous total of 99.

Some 200 people are said to be missing, so the final toll is likely to be even higher.

Sunday’s eruption sent fast-moving flows of superheated material and debris cascading down the mountain’s flank and through small villages.


3:30 p.m.

At a cemetery in the Guatemalan city of Escuintla, the family of Sandra Orizabal Diaz have laid her remains to rest after she was killed in this week’s volcanic eruption.

The 37-year-old woman lived in the nearby village of San Miguel Los Lotes, which was devastated by a wave of superheated material and debris.

Orizabal’s body was interred in a white coffin Thursday next to the grave of her husband, buried the previous day. All told, 18 members of the family died or disappeared in the disaster.

Her father Pedro Orizabal says he is saying goodbye to his daughter "with great pain."

He asks for God’s blessing on those family members who survived.

Nearly 100 people have been confirmed dead by authorities. That is expected to rise, with almost 200 said to be missing still.

Sandra Orizabal was buried hurriedly and without the usual wake by order of health authorities.

A row of additional graves have already been dug at the lush green cemetery, ready and waiting for whoever comes next.


12:20 p.m.

Guatemalan prosecutors have ordered an investigation into whether evacuation protocols were followed properly in Sunday’s deadly volcanic eruption, which caught many residents unaware and with little to no time to evacuate. 

A statement from the Public Ministry said Thursday that the investigation will seek to establish whether "the necessary protocols were activated that would allow for prudent and timely decisions." 

Disaster officials began monitoring increased activity at the Volcano of Fire on Sunday morning but initially said no evacuations were necessary. 

A new, more powerful explosion in the afternoon prompted an evacuation order, but deadly and fast-moving flows of superheated material and debris washed over villages before many people had time to flee. 

At least 99 people have been confirmed killed, a number that is expected to rise with nearly 200 still missing.


10 a.m.

The United States is sending emergency aid, including financial resources, to help meet food, water and sanitation needs for victims affected by the eruption of Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire.

The White House says President Donald Trump’s administration is also sending aircraft to help transport burn victims to Florida for treatment.

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the aid is being provided at the request of the Guatemalan government. Guatemala recently moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following a recent similar move by the U.S.

Sanders on Thursday offered "deepest condolences" to victims of the volcano eruption and said the U.S. will continue to coordinate with the Guatemalan government.

Guatemalan officials have confirmed 99 dead, with many more missing. Recovery efforts have been suspended.


9:50 a.m.

Guatemalan rescuers’ decision to suspend recovery efforts in villages devastated by a volcanic eruption is leaving some people with relatives still missing distraught.

Nohemi Ascon is the 41-year-old aunt of six young children who were killed in Sunday’s eruption of the Volcano of Fire. A photograph shows their bodies huddled on a bed in the corner of a room, covered in white ash and blood.

Ascon says she still has other family members unaccounted for – her father, mother and sisters. She adds that it’s "not right" to leave their bodies there.

In her words: "They should get them out so we can take them to the cemetery."

The children died in the town of San Miguel Los Lotes. Ascon is in a shelter in the city of San Miguel Los Lotes.

The national disaster agency says it’s suspending recovery efforts because of the danger to its workers. The official death toll is 99 with nearly 200 still missing.


9:30 a.m.

After official searchers suspended recovery efforts in Guatemalan towns devastated by a volcanic eruption, some residents are taking matters into their own hands.

Oscar Chavez trekked over a mountain Thursday with his father and younger brother. They’re searching for his brother Edgar, sister-in-law Sandra and nephew Josue.

Nobody has heard from them since Sunday’s eruption of the Volcano of Fire. Wiping a tear from his eye, Chavez says they searched shelters, hospitals, everywhere, to no avail.

With sticks and a machete they banged at the metal corrugated roof of a home buried in debris and tried to tear down a wall.

About 10 police officers saw what the family was doing and came to help, bringing more robust tools.


8:10 a.m.

Guatemala’s national disaster agency says it’s suspending rescue efforts at the zone devastated by the eruption of the Volcano of Fire.

Rains have been hitting the area and the agency says climatic conditions as well as the still-hot volcanic material deposited on the villages makes it dangerous for the rescuers.

It says it decided to suspend the search now that 72 hours have passed. That’s the length of time officials had said earlier that some victims might have survived.

It urged people to stay away from the area.


6:50 a.m.

A U.S. Air Force C-17 has carried six Guatemalan children who were badly burned in a volcanic eruption to Texas for treatment.

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala says they’ll be treated at the Shriner’s Hospital in Galveston.

The children were among the victims of Sunday’s eruption of the Volcano of Fire, which buried nearly villages in superheated ash and debris. Guatemalan officials say that 99 people are confirmed dead, with many more still missing.

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