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Guatemala El Fuego volcano eruption explained

12 June 2018
Guatemala - El Fuego Volcano - Ash and vehicles

Vehicles covered in ash in the wake of the El Fuego volcano eruption in Guatemala. 

What has happened in Guatemala?

Around mid-day local time, on Sunday 3 June, there was a catastrophic eruption of Guatemala’s Volcán de Fuego in three central departments, or states.  It has been described as the country’s most severe volcanic eruption in 45 years.

El Fuego is around 27 miles southwest of Guatemala City, the capital. It is an extremely active volcano and had already erupted in February, this year. It is located on the seismically-active Pacific 'Ring of Fire'. 

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How many people are affected by the El Fuego volcano eruption?

The death toll stood at 75 people, as of the 7 June, although this is expected  rise as more bodies are found.  To date, the number of missing people is said to be 192. But, this is just an estimate, because nobody knows how many people were on the mountain when El Fuego erupted. It is estimated that more than 1.7 million people, will be affected by the volcano’s eruption.

What are the emergency needs?

In an emergency like this one, the immediate needs are the basics – food, water and shelter. There is also a need for trauma counselling support, as families come to terms with losing loved ones.

Pray for the people of Guatemala

Who are CAFOD’s local Caritas aid agency and how are they responding?

On the front line of this emergency is the Catholic Church – their reach across the worst affected areas, through the national Caritas network, means that vulnerable and marginalised communities get the vital aid they need, to survive in the coming days and weeks. Our local Church network are:

  • Coordinating delivery of humanitarian aid — water, hygiene, clothing, medicine, and psycho-social help to evacuees

  • Assessing damage and needs in communities

  • Coordinating their response with local and national disaster management authorities and other aid organisations

What is the Catholic Church in Guatemala saying?

President of Caritas Guatemala, Monsignor Ángel Antonio Recinos Lemus, is calling on the cooperation of the Caritas confederation support families with psycho-social care,  recovery of their jobs, construction of decent housing and other basic needs. He also applauded the impressive solidarity that has been shown by the people, institutions, churches, academia and volunteers, some of whom have given their own lives to save others.

What can I do to help?

Please keep the people of Guatemala, and the aid workers responding to this emergency, in your thoughts and prayers

Help us support our local aid agencies respond to emergencies when they strike – by donating to our Emergency Response Fund