Explosions boomed from Guatemala’s fearsome Fuego volcano Wednesday, unleashing fresh torrents of mud and ash down slopes, as the death toll from a previous eruption rose to at least 99.
Fears of a new blowup of the 3,763-meter (12,346-foot) volcano have stalked rescue workers since Sunday’s eruption buried entire villages on its southern flank.
The National Forensic Sciences Agency said in a report Wednesday that morgues had received the remains of 99 people killed as a result of the eruption.
Only 28 have been identified so far, it said.
“We already have data with names and locations where there are missing persons and that number is 192,” Sergio Cabanas, head of Guatemala’s disaster management agency, told reporters earlier in the day.
Experts warned Wednesday that heavy rains in the area could provoke avalanches due to the large flows of volcanic mud, known as lahars, since the eruption on Sunday.
Volcanologists recorded the volcano exploding several times an hour Wednesday, which generated a fresh 4,700 meter (15,500 feet) high column of gray ash.
“The explosions are generating moderate avalanches that have an approximate distance of 800 to 1,000 meters,” the Volcanology Institute said.
It said the lahars could sweep down the mountain laden with concrete, rocks up to a meter (yard) in diameter and tree trunks.
“The activity continues and the possibility of new pyroclastic flows in the next hours or days cannot be ruled out, so it is recommended not to remain near the affected area,” it said.
Emergency workers had to temporarily suspend their search late Tuesday after a new eruption triggered a landslide.
Hundreds of people were evacuated from seven communities in the Escuintla area near the summit, as panicked locals rushed to their cars to escape, causing chaotic traffic.
An AFP photographer saw a large plume of ash rise into the sky, prompting an evacuation of everyone authorities could find before the police, the military and rescuers were ordered to stand down.