Guatemala volcano death toll rises to 69
EL RODEO, Guatemala (AP) — The Latest on the eruption of Guatemala's Volcano of Fire (all times local):
8:05 a.m.on June 5
Pope Francis is mourning the victims of Guatemala's Volcano of Fire eruption and sending his prayers for their families and the rescue crews trying to help survivors.
Francis sent a telegram of condolence Tuesday, saying he was "profoundly sorry" to learn of the high toll. He said he wanted to express his "consolation to families who are weeping for the loss of their loved ones, as well as spiritual closeness to the wounded and those who are working to help."
Guatemalan authorities put the death toll at 69, but officials said just 17 had been identified so far because the intense heat of the volcanic debris flows left most bodies unrecognizable.
7:20 a.m. on June 5
Guatemala's Volcano of Fire is continuing to burst out rocks and ash, nearly two days after a major eruption that killed at least 69 people.
The country's volcanology and meteorology institute says the volcano has been experiencing eight to 10 moderate explosions per hour Tuesday morning, though the scale of the activity is far lower than that of Sunday.
That eruption caught residents of remote mountain hamlets off guard, with little or no time to flee to safety.
The volcano has been in eruption since 2002.
1:10 p.m. on June 4
The known death toll for the eruption of Guatemala's Volcano of Fire has taken a sudden jump upward.
The director of Guatemala's National Institute of Forensic Science says that 62 bodies have been recovered following the eruption.
Fanuel Garcia said Monday that only 13 of those bodies have so far been identified. The bodies were recovered in the hamlets of Los Lotes and El Rodeo.
The head of the country's disaster agency had previously put the death toll at 33, but warned it would go higher.
The volcano west of Guatemala City staged and explosive eruption Sunday, burying surrounding hamlets in hot ash and mud that gave residents on the volcano's flanks little time to escape.
11 a.m. on June 4
The head of Guatemala's disaster agency says 33 people are confirmed dead in the explosive eruption of the Volcano of Fire, and the toll is expected to rise further.
Rescuers are using heavy machinery and shovels have found the bodies of at least eight more victims since the last death toll was given at 25.
Disaster agency chief Sergio Cabanas also said Monday that helicopters had rescued 10 people from areas hit by thick ash, mud or lava.
The volcano exploded Sunday, sending ash high into the sky and lava flows cascading into rural hamlets on the mountain's slopes.
10:20 a.m. on June 4
Guatemala City's international airport has re-opened after it was closed by falling ash from the eruption of the Volcano of Fire to the west.
The airport's press office says the facility was reopened Monday after ash was cleared from the runway. However, the airport press office says each airline is free to make its own decision about whether to resume flights.
Fine, gritty volcanic ash can damage jet engines.
9:40 a.m. on June 4
Rescuers have found the bodies of several more victims of an eruption at Guatemala's Volcano of Fire, and emergency workers have pulled 10 people still alive from ash drifts and mud flows.
The official death toll stood at 25 Monday morning, but Associated Press journalists saw several more burned and ash-covered bodies being unloaded after they were dug out in the village of El Rodeo.
Disaster agency chief Sergio Cabanas says rescuers using helicopters have rescued 10 people from areas hit by thick ash, mud or lava.
8:30 a.m. on June 4
In the Guatemalan village of El Rodeo, heavily armed soldiers wearing blue masks to ward off the dust are standing guard over a community hit by a volcanic eruption that has killed at least 25.
Some locals say they didn't learn of the danger until it was upon them.
El Rodeo resident Rafael Letran says the country's disaster agency sent pickup trucks with workers "yelling at people to leave."
But by that time, he says, "the lava was already here."
A group of residents arrived at the scene of the lava flow Monday with shovels and work boots to help the search for survivors and victims.
6:25 a.m. on June 4
Guatemalan officials say more than 3,200 people have been evacuated due to a volcanic eruption that has killed at least 25 people.
The country's disaster agency said Monday that the death toll remains at 25, though there are apparently people still unaccounted for.
The Volcan del Fuego burst into eruption Sunday, hurling ash 14,700 feet (4,500 meters) above sea level and sending flows of pyroclastic materials down its flanks into nearby towns.
Guatemala's volcanology agency says the eruption had calmed by about 10 p.m. Sunday (4 a.m. Monday GMT).
11:20 p.m. on June 4
Israel says it has delivered food, blankets and medicine to Guatemala after a volcano erupted there, killing at least 25 people.
Israel's Foreign Ministry says Monday it extended the assistance through its embassy in Guatemala and that a further assessment will be held with local authorities later.
Israel and Guatemala have grown increasingly close in recent years. Last month, Guatemala followed the U.S. by moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, becoming the second country to do so. Israel considers Jerusalem its capital. The Palestinians seek its eastern sector as capital of their hoped-for state.
The Volcan de Fuego, or "volcano of fire," exploded in a hail of ash and molten rock Sunday, blanketing nearby villages in heavy ash and sending lava flows down the mountain's flank.
10:40 p.m. on June 4
Authorities in Guatemala say 18 more people have been confirmed killed by a volcanic eruption, raising the death toll to 25.
Disaster agency spokesman David de Leon said late Sunday the bodies were found in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes. Seven deaths were confirmed previously.
Rescuers have struggled to reach rural residents cut off by the eruption, which has also injured at least 20. Authorities have been unable to account for an undetermined number of people and say they fear the death toll could rise.
The Volcan de Fuego, or "volcano of fire," exploded in a hail of ash and molten rock shortly before noon Sunday, blanketing nearby villages in heavy ash. Then it began sending lava flows down the mountain's flank and across homes and roads around 4 p.m.