London, June 5, 2018 - The deadly eruption of Guetemala’s Fuego Volcano on Sunday has casued the destrution of many nearby villages, with the official death toll now soaring to 70 people, and up to 2,000 more feared missing.
“The atmosphere is practically unbreathable. Within two to three days, access to clean water and basic sanitation will be a vital humanitarian need for more than 3,200 displaced people living in temporary shelters provide by the local authorities," warns Miguel Ángel García, Country Director of Action against Hunger in Central America-Guatemala and Nicaragua.
An estimated 1.7 million people have been affected after ashcolumns from the catastrophic eruption reached more than 10,000 meters above sea level, and pyroclastic flows - fast-moving mixtures of very hot gas and volcanic matter such as ash or mud - descended through deep ravines into the communities living below.
Remote areas of the Department of Escuintla, where the eruption has hit hardest, are currently inaccessible to rescue teams due to the location and the danger posed by toxic gases, and there are growing fears for people that may have been trapped in this area.
“We are in full rainy season in Guatemala which can cause lahars - flows of ash and water that slide down from the slopes of the volcanoes,” explains García.
“The recent lava flows could generate large lahars that can still overflow into villages and hamlets that have not yet been affected in much of Escuintla. The number of disappeared could continue to grow.”
Following initial assessments with local authorities and the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED), Action Against Hunger’s emergency water and sanitation (WASH) team is ensuring access to clean water in the ten emergency shelters that have been set up.
The team will also proceed with the cleaning of wells and water systems and assess the impact of the disaster on the livelihoods of the population, as well as supporting immediate finanical needs via economic transfers.
- Action Against Hunger is a global humanitarian organisation that takes decisive action against the causes and effects of hunger. We save the lives of malnourished children and work with their communities before and after disaster strikes. We ensure that everyone can access clean water, food, training and healthcare. We enable people to provide for themselves and we constantly search for more effective solutions, while sharing our knowledge and expertise with the world. We push for long-term change. We will never give up. Until the world is free from hunger.
- In 2017, Action Against Hunger helped more than 20.2 million people in nearly 50 countries around the world.