Guatemala: Red Cross races to help survivors of volcanic eruption
Panama/Geneva, 4 June 2018 – Wounded and traumatised survivors of the Fuego volcanic eruption in Guatemala are being rushed to hospital by the Red Cross, as urgent work continues to evacuate communities from the danger zone.
At least 25 people died when the volcano, which lies 40km south-west of the capital Guatemala City, began its eruption on Sunday 3 June, sending deadly pyroclastic flows and ash across a 15-kilometre radius. As many as 1.7 million people may be affected.
Emergency response teams from the Guatemala Red Cross are giving medical and psychosocial support to survivors, and ambulances from three Red Cross branches have been deployed to take wounded people to hospitals in the capital.
Walter Cotte, Regional Director of Americas for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “This disaster is very serious, and the situation may get even worse – as well as the ongoing eruption, communities are also at high risk of mud avalanches.
“Guatemalan Red Cross volunteers and staff are on the ground now, and IFRC’s regional and global disaster response systems are on standby to give support where it is needed.”
Some 3,100 people had been evacuated from the danger zone by Monday morning, with further evacuations planned. The Government has issued red alerts in the Departments of Escuintla, Alotenango, Sacatepequez, Yepocapa and Chimaltenango. Three emergency shelters have been activated.
The Red Cross is working closely with CONRED, Guatemala’s national civil protection authority, and will activate its blood services and Restoring Family Links support to help with the response. A relief donation collection centre has also been opened in Guatemala City.