Photo Credit: Government of Guatemala / Twitter
Guatemala disaster relief worker gazes at Volcan de Fuego as it continues to erupt.

Entire communities in the Central American nation of Guatemala are digging out from under mounds of ash after Sunday’s eruption of Volcan de Fuego (“volcano of fire”). The volcano sent a pyroclastic flow of hot mud, ash and gas — “sludge” — down its southern slope to bury the village of El Rodeo.

Israeli officials responded with the message that the Jewish State would send “immediate” emergency aid.  Guatemala was the second nation to move her national embassy to the holy city of Jerusalem just two days after the United States transferred her own embassy to the Israeli capital on May 15, 2018, the 70th anniversary of the rebirth of the State of Israel. Relations between the two nations are close and warm, with various projects tying the countries together — and even an “Israel Friendship Law” in Guatemala.

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President Jimmy Morales and First Lady Paty De Morales arrived at the village together with state ministers to show solidarity and help determine the damage. “There is enough drinking water, food and blessed be God there are enough provisions to cover this emergency,” he told reporters. “We have the mobile kitchens… to be able to provide hot food to the affected people,” he added.

Residents wearing blue masks, work boots and carrying shovels to help search for survivors and victims arrived at the village on Monday. Guatemala’s disaster agency sent pickup trucks and workers who urged people to leave — some of whom had no idea they were in danger “until the lava was already here,” resident Rafael Letran told The Independent.

A 5.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the country Sunday shortly after 9 am local time, striking at a depth of 10 kilometers, according to the US Geological Survey.

At least 62 people were confirmed dead by early Tuesday and a total of two million people were affected in what is being called the biggest eruption of the volcano in 40 years.

Guatemala’s National Institute for Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology said the volcano is still producing between five and seven explosions per hour, with “abundant” ash clouds reaching some 15,000 feet in the air.

Residents of Guatemala City found themselves sweeping ash from their homes and streets, while workers at the international airport tried to determine whether the runways were clear enough to allow the return of commercial flights.

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