At Guatemala Volcano, Search Halted As Death Toll Hits 109

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Rescuers suspended search and recovery efforts Thursday at villages devastated by the eruption of Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire, leaving people with missing loved ones distraught and prompting some to do the risky work themselves with rudimentary tools.AAymJYA

Conred, the national disaster agency, said climatic conditions and still-hot volcanic material were making it dangerous for rescuers, and it was also taking into account the fact that 72 hours had passed since Sunday’s eruption.

That’s the window beyond which officials earlier said it would be extremely unlikely to find any survivors amid the ash, mud and other debris that buried homes up to their rooftops.

“It rained very hard yesterday. … The soil is unstable,” said Pablo Castillo, a spokesman for national police.

Guatemalan prosecutors ordered an investigation into whether emergency protocols were followed properly, as many residents were caught with little or no time to evacuate.

Troublesome downpours and more volcanic activity had been hindering searches, but when teams have been able to work in the hardest hit areas, the death toll has continued to tick upward. The official number of confirmed dead was raised by 10 to 109 in the early evening, with about 200 more believed to be missing.

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: AP
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