The death toll is now 69 following the devastating volcanic eruption in Guatemala, which has obliterated two villages. James Blears reports that hope is fading of finding survivors.
Sunday's eruption of El Fuego Volcano forty kms to the South West of the Capitol Guatemala City, sent ash and poisonous gas ten kilometers up into the atmosphere, or as high as a cruising jumbo jet. The search by the Military and fire fighters for survivors continues, mostly centered on the villages of El Rodeo and San Miguel Los Lotes, at the foot of this volatile shallow core volcano. They've been reduced to lunar landscapes covered in lava, ash and thick cloying mud. Many people, especially children and the elderly are still missing, and the death toll is expected to steeply rise. Conventional identification of bodies, seared by the heat of molten lava, is being done by DNA. More than three thousand people have been evacuated from their homes, almost two thousand are still in emergency shelters and two million people have been directly affected, by the biggest eruption in more than one hundred years, in a country which has 34 volcanos. The possibility of more mudslides and landslides remains a very real danger.