Guatemala suffers great losses from volcano eruption

admin   •   June 18, 2018   •   3632

Vehicles damaged by an eruption from Fuego volcano are seen beside a firefighter in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

Guatemala has been suffering from great losses since gas and ash cascaded down the Fuego Volcano on June 3.

With 37 volcanoes in the country, the locals have developed their way of living with their most dangerous neighbor, yet nobody can ever get ready for the loss of a beloved. On a street in Escuintla, a city located in south-central Guatemala, tears were shed as coffins crushed weight on the shoulders of young men.

These funerals are the Guatemalans’ way of saying goodbye. To them, death is merely a beginning, and souls could only enter the afterworld through rituals like these.

As comforting as it may sound, funerals like these have witnessed a non-stop in the past two weeks. Ninety-five percent of the people who were killed and remains missing in the eruption used to live in Escuintla, the city hit most by the catastrophe.

According to officials, this is due to high density of the population living near the volcano.

“People living by the south of the Fuego Volcano have been increasing over the past years. Communities which used to have only 20 households now have more than 500,” said David de Leon, spokesman for the Guatemala National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED).

Leon also said that actions need to be taken and standards need to be made to bring the population down.

Quite different from Hawaii‘s Kilauea Volcano which erupted in May, the Fuego Volcano is a stratovolcano, a type that hoards gas, making any eruption even worse.

Eruptions of stratovolcanoes could also bring huge amounts of expanded air with its flow speed at 700 kilometers per hour, faster than water. Anyone trapped inside would face little chance of survival.

As painful as it may be, the emotional loss did not come alone. Economic loss is also huge.

“We are still counting up specific numbers, but it is safe to say that it would take really long for our country to recover from such a catastrophe psychologically since we have high poverty rate and a large malnutrition crowd,” said Carlos Vidal, vice minister of Social Development of Guatemala.

Due to the active state of the Fuego Volcano, many tourists have canceled their visiting plans. According to local officials, the loss in the tourism sector has surpassed two million dollars in the past week. — Reuters

Mexico’s National Guard halts advance of latest wave of migrants

UNTV News   •   January 24, 2020

Hundreds of Central Americans traveling as part of a migrant caravan walk on 23 January 2020 near the southeastern Mexican town of Frontera Hidalgo. EPA-EFE/Juan Manuel Blanco

Frontera Hidalgo, Mexico – Thousands of Central Americans crossed into Mexico illegally Thursday from Guatemala, taking advantage of scant monitoring of a section of the Suchiate River, the natural border between those two countries.

The migrants traveled several kilometers inside Mexico and said they planned to move in orderly fashion and formally apply for asylum, but more than 200 members of Mexico’s National Guard halted their advance on a road in Chiapas state near the Guatemala-Mexico border after an attempt at dialogue between the migrants and Mexican authorities broke down.

National Migration Institute (INM) buses arrived at that spot near the town of Frontera Hidalgo to take hundreds of detained migrants to immigration-processing centers such as the Siglo XXI station in the city of Tapachula.

Carrying the flags of Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua and signs with the message “We Want to Talk Directly to the President,” the migrants set out early Thursday and walked more than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas, to the nearby town of Frontera Hidalgo.

They said they were taking up an offer from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who last Friday offered jobs to thousands of migrants but said they would need to apply for asylum in Mexico.

The migrants also said they were looking to obtain safe-conduct passes – at least in Chiapas – and thereby avoid being targets of the National Guard, a recently formed militarized police force.

“Right now what we’re going to do is heed the call of (Lopez Obrador) … He’s promised us that they won’t touch us with an (asylum application) in hand. That’s what we’re going to do. If they touch us, I don’t know who’s lying there. But we’re going to do our part,” Honduran Jose Luis Morales told Efe Thursday.

However, tensions escalated Thursday when the migrants and some activists accompanying them confronted officials with the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (Comar) and the INM and demanded they respond to some 2,000 requests for asylum made in recent days by members of their caravan.

On Monday, between 500 and 1,000 migrants – part of a caravan that originally consisted of as many as 5,000 people – ran across the Suchiate River near the Rodolfo Robles bridge.

The National Guard responded with tear gas and captured more than 400 people; the National Migration Institute said 40 other migrants opted to return to Guatemala of their own accord, while 58 others disappeared into the jungle.

The INM says that a total of 679 Honduran members of the caravan, which left that impoverished Central American country a week ago, have been deported by air or land.

That institute said Wednesday that more than 2,000 migrants had been intercepted in a single day in the southeastern Mexican states of Chiapas and Tabasco.

On Thursday, the migrants crossed the Suchiate River at a different point to avoid being turned away by the National Guard.

Despite having crossed the river by surprise, the Central Americans had pledged on Thursday to migrate in peaceful and orderly fashion.

“We’re traveling because it’s the only way that maybe they’ll show mercy and let us travel to the north. My (preferred) destination is the United States, but if I can stay in Mexico I’ll stay because for me it’s a big advantage, since we’re supported here by all the Mexican people,” Honduran Marco Tulio Polanco told Efe.

Mexico’s equivalent of an ombudsman’s office, the National Human Rights Commission, which has come under fire for its lukewarm response to Monday’s events on the border, on Thursday issued a statement saying that its officials have been gathering up complaints and that it condemns “all acts of violence against the physical integrity of migrants.”

Unemployment, poverty and, above all, high levels of gang violence are the reasons most cited by Central Americans for leaving their native countries.

Mexico’s response to this first migrant caravan of 2020 reflects a sharp change in policy by Lopez Obrador’s administration, which had previously offered fast-track visas to migrants for humanitarian reasons and had sought to enlist the US in a development plan for Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

That plan focused on boosting job opportunities in countries that have some of the highest homicide rates in the world and where 60 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

But under pressure from US President Donald Trump’s administration, which had threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports if that country did not halt the northward movement of Central Americans, Lopez Obrador’s government agreed with the US in June 2019 on a plan to curb migration.

Last month, Mexico announced a 70 percent reduction in the number of people arriving at its border with the US and said that the INM had deported 178,960 foreigners in 2019. EFE-EPA


Guatemalan families struggle with grief as Fuego death toll tops 100

admin   •   June 8, 2018

Renato Cortez (L) is helped by friend Alex Ruiz to look for his family at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano at San Miguel Los Lotes, Escuintla, Guatemala June 7, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso


Tragedy for families in Guatemala as they bury their dead on Thursday (June 07) after this week’s eruptions from the mighty Fuego volcano.

In the rural community of Alotenango locals have been hard hit. For many here there was not enough time to evacuate after a blanket of hot ash and smoke covered large parts of the region.

The toll of dead from the series of eruptions that began on Sunday (June 3) has been gradually rising and currently stands at at 109, according to the country’s Institute of Forensic Sciences. Authorities report that 190 people are still missing.

Guatemala’s national disaster agency says so far, the eruption has affected the lives of 1.7 million people and 12,000 have been evacuated.

Those in shelters are unsure as to what awaits them when they return home.

Fuego, or “Fire” in Spanish, lies about 25 miles (40 km) southwest of the capital, Guatemala City, near the picturesque colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site. The 3,763-metre (12,346-feet) peak is one of several active volcanoes among 34 in Guatemala. —Reuters

Death toll rises to 99 in Guatemala volcano eruption

admin   •   June 7, 2018

Soldiers search for remains at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano at El Rodeo in Escuintla, Guatemala June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Fabricio Alonzo

The death toll from the eruption of Guatemala‘s Fuego volcano rose to 99 on Wednesday amid rescuers’ continued efforts to save the victims, according to Guatemala‘s National Forensic Sciences Institute.

About 200 people are still missing after the 3,763-meter volcano erupted on Sunday, affecting over 1.7 million people in nearby villages.

“We are waiting for further instructions for the rescue operation. We will adjust our search and rescue methods after the golden 72 hour period,” said Federico Turcio, a rescuer.

The hot lava and volcanic ash destroyed a number of villages in suburban Guatemala City and severely impacted the electrical grids of La Aurora International Airport which resumed operation on Monday.

On Tuesday, Fuego volcano erupted again, unleashing a new flow of dangerous volcanic material and forcing thousands of rescuers to suspend their search for victims.

“This volcano has long been active. The recent powerful eruption has ruined several villages nearby. And it is now still weakly erupting,” said Juan Jose Aldana, a firefighter.

Volcanologists said for Fuego volcano, one of the country’s most active volcanoes dating back to 1542, Sunday’s eruption was the most violent since 1974.

“We are giving humanitarian relief in this emergency situation, hoping to reduce the impact of the disaster,” said Minor Marroqui, the spokesman of the Guatemala Humanitarian Rescue Team. — Reuters



The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel) (General inquiries)


UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.