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A volcano erupts in Guatemala, forcing the closure of the airport and the highway

Residents saw a sudden expulsion of lava on Saturday evening. (Representative)

Guatemala City, Guatemala:

One of Central America’s most active volcanoes erupted again, spewing lava and ash and forcing authorities in Guatemala City on Sunday to briefly close the country’s largest airport and a major highway.

The volcano named Fuego – Spanish for fire – came into activity overnight Saturday into Sunday, with molten rock seeping down its slopes and ash spewing two kilometers (more than a mile) into the sky. Winds carried the ashes to Guatemala City, 35 kilometers (22 miles) away.

La Aurora International Airport, six kilometers south of the capital, was temporarily closed mid-morning, the Directorate General of Civil Aeronautics said in a statement, citing the presence of ash near the runway.

At least two incoming flights had to be diverted, aviation sources said, before it reopened around noon local time after winds changed direction and blew ash away from the facility.

In addition, a road that connects southern and central Guatemala has been closed as a precaution, said Carlos Aquino, spokesman for the traffic police. It reopened on Sunday afternoon as the volcano’s activity waned.

The volcano lies about 16 kilometers from Antigua, the country’s scenic former capital and biggest tourist attraction.

Fuego erupts every four to five years on average. In 2018, an eruption sent rivers of lava flowing down its flanks, devastating the village of San Miguel Los Lotes, killing 215 people and leaving a similar number missing.

Authorities are closely monitoring the latest eruption and so far no one has been evacuated, said Rodolfo Garcia, a civil protection spokesman.

“With what happened in 2018, the authorities are already more alert and more active,” said Jose Sul, another resident of Alotenango.

Residents saw a sudden expulsion of lava on Saturday evening that reddened the sky. “People here are used to living it, and they consider it normal,” Demetrio Pamal, a 28-year-old indigenous Mayan farmer, told AFP.

Many local families have a backpack ready with food, water, a flashlight and medicine so they can evacuate for up to three days in the blink of an eye.

Guatemala has two other active volcanoes – Santiaguito in the west of the country and Pacaya in the south.

Fuego also adjoins the inactive volcano Acatenango – at 3,500 meters.

Unlike Andean volcanoes in South America, those in Guatemala are not snow-capped due to the warmer climate of Central America.

Central America has more than 100 volcanoes, many of which are very popular tourist attractions, even though they sometimes cause death and destruction.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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