Ninety-nine people are now known to have died in Guatemala’s Fuego volcano disaster, with nearly 200 people still missing days after the 3 June eruption.
The Guatemalan Red Cross has been responding since the outset. Volunteers and staff have given medical treatment to survivors before transferring them to hospitals in Guatemala City. The Red Cross is also supporting thousands of people who were evacuated from the danger zone, and helping to reunite families that were separated during the disaster.
As many as 1.7 million people may be affected by the eruptions. Volcanic ash has fallen heavily within a 20km radius, raising fears of health problems and the destruction or damage of livestock, crops, and vital infrastructure including water sources and systems.
IFRC President Francesco Rocca visited the scene on 7 June. He said: “Critical, emergency needs are still enormous, and affected communities will need sustained and long-term support.
“For the families worst affected, we believe the recovery process will take at least a year. These people lost everything – homes, livelihoods and tragically, loved ones.
“These families are our priority, but the eruptions have had a much larger impact. Fine ash has fallen across more than half of the country, covering areas where agriculture is a key activity. The economic impact of this is unclear. We hope it will not mean a secondary disaster.
“I was deeply impressed by the massive and courageous response of the Guatemala Red Cross. Our volunteers have been responding since Sunday. They are exhausted, but their resolve is unwavering,” President Rocca added.
IFRC has released more than 250,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) in support of the Guatemala Red Cross humanitarian response.