Guatemala: Pacaya Volcano - May 2010

Disaster description

Due to the increasing activity of Pacaya Volcano on May 27th, the Government of Guatemala declared a State of Calamity for the departments of Guatemala, Escuintla and Sacatepequez. 1,600 people were evacuated, 3 were reported missing and one death. (UNCT Guatemala, 28 May 2010)

Nearly 70 days after Tropical Storm Agatha struck Guatemala and the Pacaya volcano erupted, some 412,000 people remain affected by the aftermath of both events. Agatha, the first tropical storm of the 2010 Pacific hurricane season, made landfall on the Pacific coast of Guatemala on May 29, dumping more than 426 millimetres of rain in a short period of time and affecting 21 of the 22 departments of the country. Rainfall and damage across such a large part of the country was a phenomenon not seen since 1948. At the same time the effects of the Pacaya volcanic eruption on May 27 limited and delayed search and rescue operations as well the provision of humanitarian relief. The eruption closed the international airport, and large amounts of volcanic ash covered fields and clogged water drainage systems. This increased the flooding, rendering many roads impassable and impeding or blocking access to vulnerable populations across the country.

The Government of Guatemala declared a State of National Calamity on May 29, which was repeatedly prolonged, in accordance to the unmet humanitarian needs of the affected population. Based on assessments and in line with the Government's priorities and plans, a Flash Appeal for $15,533,045 was launched on June 11 to address the needs of 390,000 people affected by the emergency. Initial efforts focused on the provision of emergency aid (food and non-food items [NFIs], safe water and health assistance) to the affected population, especially to people who had to be evacuated to shelters following the disaster. (OCHA, 14 September 2010

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