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Death toll rises in smoldering Guatemala

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 6/04/18, 05:14 pm

UPDATE: Rescuers have recovered 62 bodies from the ash-covered countryside in Guatemala, where a violent volcano eruption Sunday caught many people off guard. “It is very difficult for us to identify them because some of the dead lost their features or their fingerprints” from the heat, said Fanuel Garcia, director of the National Institute of Forensic Sciences. “We are going to have to resort to other methods … and if possible take DNA samples to identify them.” Using shovels and backhoes, emergency workers dug through debris and mud still hot enough to melt shoe soles a day after the volcano exploded in a hail of ash, smoke and molten rock. The death toll is expected to rise.

OUR EARLIER REPORT (10:34 a.m.): Guatemala’s Volcan del Fuego erupted Sunday with an explosion that made the recent activity at the Hawaiian volcano Kilauea look like a burp by comparison. The country’s disaster agency reported 25 people had died and more remained missing in rural areas cut off by the eruption. Where Kilauea caused destruction with lava flows and clouds of ash, Fuego set off something called a “pyroclastic flow,” a current of burning gas, steam, and rocks that can reach speeds of more than 400 miles per hour. More than 3,200 people have evacuated, and foreign countries are rushing to provide aid for those affected.

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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