Volcano erupts on Italian island of Stromboli, kills one person

Ash rises after a volcano eruption in Stromboli, Italy, July 3, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. Gernot Werner Gruber via REUTERS

By Angelo Amante

ROME (Reuters) – A volcano on the Italian island of Stromboli erupted on Wednesday, releasing hot trapped magma in a powerful explosion, killing one person and enveloping the popular tourist destination in ash, witnesses and local officials said.

The person, believed to be a tourist, was killed by falling stones during a walk, a rescue service official said. A second person was injured.

Ash rises after a volcano eruption in Stromboli, Italy, July 3, 2019 in this still image obtained from a social media video. Gernot Werner Gruber via REUTERS

Ash rises after a volcano eruption in Stromboli, Italy, July 3, 2019 in this still image obtained from a social media video. Gernot Werner Gruber via REUTERS

The unexpected eruption started fires on the western side of the small Mediterranean island, which lies north of Sicily, off the toe of Italy. Fire crews were being called in from nearby locations and a Canadair plane was already in action.

“We saw the explosion from the hotel. There was a loud roar,” said Michela Favorito, who works in a hotel near Fico Grande, on the east side of the island.

“We plugged our ears and after this a cloud of ash swept over us. The whole sky is full of ash, a fairly large cloud,” she told Reuters.

Fiona Carter, a British tourist on the island of Panarea, some 27 km (17 miles) from Stromboli, heard the blast.

“We turned around to see a mushroom cloud coming from Stromboli. Everyone was in shock. Then red hot lava started running down the mountain towards the little village of Ginostra,” she told Reuters.

“The cloud got bigger, white and gray. It enveloped Ginostra and now the cloud has covered Stromboli entirely. Several boats set off for Stromboli,” she added.

Stefano Branca, an expert with the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV), said there had been a “paroxysmal eruption” on the island, when high-pressure magma explodes from a shallow, underground reservoir.

“These are events of great intensity and quite rare,” he told Reuters.

Tourists often climb to the 924-metre (3,000-foot) summit of the volcano and peer into its crater, with small puffs of molten rock regularly blasted into the sky. It was not clear if anyone was on the crater at the time of the blast.

According to the geology.com website, Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet and has been erupting almost continuously since 1932.

The island was the setting for a 1950 movie starring Ingrid Bergman and, with other islands in the Aeolian archipelago, has become a favorite location in recent decades for holiday homes for the rich and famous.

(Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Frances Kerry and Peter Graff)

Papua New Guinea volcanic eruptions force 15,000 from their homes

FILE PHOTO - Ash billows from Mount Ulawun during a volcanic eruption, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea June 26, 2019 in this still image taken from social media video. Eroli Tamara via REUTERS

By Alison Bevege

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Volcanic eruptions in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have forced 15,000 villagers in the country’s northeast to flee their homes, aid agencies said on Sunday.

Mount Ulawun on PNG’s northeastern island of New Britain exploded suddenly on Wednesday, shooting an ash column 18 km (11.18 miles) into the air, while nearby Manam erupted on Friday, sending dangerous pyroclastic flows down its slopes.

There were no reported casualties but the eruptions destroyed homes, plantations and wells, leaving villagers without food and water while ash columns disrupted domestic flights.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said as of Sunday, 3,775 people had fled the Manam eruption and 11,047 people from the Mount Ulawun eruption and taken shelter in refugee centers.

Volcanic ash has blanketed the area with tiny glass-like particles that can permanently damage the lungs, leading to sickness or death.

Leo Mapmani of the West New Britain Provincial Disaster Centre said health risks from the ash falls meant people were unable to return to their homes while the dust would damage food crops if rains did not wash it off soon.

“If it is on the hilltops and the treetops and the wind blows, people will inhale it,” he told Reuters by telephone from West New Britain’s provincial capital of Kimbe.

Manam Island resident Jordan Sauba told local media his house was destroyed by ash and stones.

“We had nowhere to go so we went under the house and hid there for at least eight hours,” he said from Manam Island.

PNG Red Cross, provincial governments, provincial disaster centers and the Salvation Army have taken emergency supplies to the shelters, IFRC PNG head Udaya Regmi told Reuters on Sunday.

It was unclear when villagers would be able to return to their homes, he said.

PNG Prime Minister James Marape visited the Ulawun refuge shelters in West New Britain province on Sunday. Marape had previously said he would send the defense force to help.

Steve Saunders, principal geodetic surveyor at the Rabaul Volcano Observatory told Reuters that Manam was expected to continue to erupt with active lava flows from the summit to the sea.

“Satellites are monitoring the gas and temperatures and we’re monitoring deformation to see if we have any uplift,” he said.

(Reporting by Alison Bevege; Editing by Sam Holmes)

 

Indonesia searches for survivors after volcano triggers deadly tsunami

Rescue team members search for victims among debris after a tsunami hit at Rajabasa district in South Lampung, Indonesia, December 23, 2018 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Ardiansyah/ via REUTERS

By Fergus Jensen

LABUAN, Indonesia (Reuters) – Indonesian military and rescue teams fanned out across a stretch of coastline on Monday, hoping to find survivors of a tsunami triggered by an underwater landslide from a volcano that has been erupting for months.

Authorities called for vigilance amid the spewing of ash by Anak Krakatau, a volcanic island where a crater collapse late on Saturday together with a high tide set off waves that smashed into coastal areas, killing at least 281 people.

Rescuers using heavy machinery and their bare hands searched through debris, pulling out bodies in the worst-affected areas on the west coast of Java island, where and hundreds of soldiers and volunteers looked for victims along a 100 km (60 mile) stretch of shore.

More than 1,000 people were injured and about 12,000 residents had to move to higher ground, with a high-tide warning extended to Wednesday.

The vast archipelago, which sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, has suffered its worst annual death toll from disasters in more than a decade.

Earthquakes flattened parts of the island of Lombok in July and August, and a double quake-and-tsunami killed more than 2,000 people on a remote part of Sulawesi island in September.

President Joko Widodo visited the affected area on Monday and praised the authorities for swift action in responding to the latest disaster.

“The speed and accuracy in the field is to be appreciated,” he said.

Saturday’s tsunami came with almost no warning and destroyed more than 700 buildings, from small shops and houses to villas and hotels. The time between the landslide and waves hitting the coast was just 24 minutes.

Dented vehicles were crushed together by a wave that carried chunks of metal, felled trees and left roof tiles, wooden beams and household items strewn across roads. Some cars ended up in rice fields.

Nurjana, 20, dashed to the mountains after the tsunami hit. Her beachside snack stall was washed away.

“I opened the door straight away and saved myself. I jumped over the wall,” she told Reuters.

“Everything is destroyed.”

HEIGHTENED ACTIVITY

Aerial video footage of the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra showed Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau) still erupting on Sunday night, with sustained bursts of white smoke and ash filling the sky.

The meteorology agency estimated the collapsed area of the volcanic island, once known as Krakatoa, was about 64 hectares, or the size of 90 soccer fields.

Scientists had earlier said an underwater landslide was the likely cause.

Krakatau erupted in 1883 killing more than 36,000 people in a series of tsunamis. Anak Krakatau is the island that emerged from the area in 1927 and has been growing ever since.

The high waves isolated hundreds of people on Sebesi island, about 12 km from the volcano.

A man carries a chicken as he searches for belonging at his house hit by the tsunami in Pandeglang, Banten province, Indonesia, December 24, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

A man carries a chicken as he searches for belonging at his house hit by the tsunami in Pandeglang, Banten province, Indonesia, December 24, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

“We are completely paralyzed,” Syamsiar, a village secretary on the island, told Metro TV, calling for food and medicine.

Widodo, who is running for re-election in April, told disaster agencies to install early warning systems, but experts said that unlike with tsunami caused by earthquakes, little could have been done to alert people that waves were coming.

“Tsunamis from volcanic flank collapse are generated right at the coast and often close to populations,” said Eddie Dempsey, lecturer in structural geology at Britain’s University of Hull.

“The interval between the volcanic collapse and the arrival of the waves is minimal.”

The timing of the disaster over the Christmas season evoked memories of the Indian Ocean tsunami triggered by an earthquake on Dec. 26, 2004, which killed 226,000 people in 14 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Families streamed out of the area on Monday for fear of further tsunami, jamming roads already blocked by debris.

Fishermen told how a light breeze was followed by a huge wave that smashed together wooden fishing boats moored off the coast and pulled down the trees they were tied to.

A teenage boy cries after finding his relatives among the ruins of his house which was hit by the tsunami in Pandeglang, Banten province, Indonesia, December 24, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

A teenage boy cries after finding his relatives among the ruins of his house which was hit by the tsunami in Pandeglang, Banten province, Indonesia, December 24, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

TANGLED WRECKAGE

Excavators were being used to move debris and wreckage, including piles of steel roofing tangled like spaghetti. Medics were sent in with the military, while groups of police and soldiers reached remote areas.

A team of volunteers who worked on disasters in Lombok and Palu pulled bodies out of damaged beachside retreats.

“This year has been pretty busy. The disasters have been more severe,” said Muhammad Idris, who led the team.

Television footage showed how the tsunami washed away an outdoor stage where Indonesian rock band Seventeen was performing for about 200 guests at a party for utility company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN).

Forty-one PLN employees and their relatives died. At least four band members and support crew were killed, lead singer Riefian “Ifan” Fajarsyah told followers in a tearful Instagram account.

Cici Paramita, 27, remembers hearing volcanic eruptions on Saturday afternoon, as she in front of her house about 50 meters back from the beach but said they were “not unusual”.

But then she heard an “extraordinary” rumbling.

She dashed inside to save her year-old baby and later found her other child, 8, alive among the wreckage outside.

“I was afraid for my life,” she said.

(Additional reporting by Johan Purnomo and Adi Kurniawan in PANDEGLANG and Fanny Potkin, Tabita Diela and Wilda Asmarni in JAKARTA; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Martin Petty; Editing by Paul Tait)

Volcano on Indonesian island of Bali hurls out ash and lava

Mount Agung volcano erupts in Bali, Indonesia, July 2, 2018 photo obtained from social media.

DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) – A volcano on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali erupted late on Monday, hurling lava and ash kilometers into the air and prompting panicked residents to flee their homes. Mount Agung in northeast Bali has been rumbling since late last year and on Friday there was a temporary closure of the island’s international airport, disrupting flights and stranding thousands of travelers.

Mount Agung volcano erupts during the night, as seen from Bugbug village in Karangasem regency in Bali, Indonesia, July 2, 2018. Picture taken July 2, 2018. Andre Ardiansyah/Handout via REUTERS

Mount Agung volcano erupts during the night, as seen from Bugbug village in Karangasem regency in Bali, Indonesia, July 2, 2018. Picture taken July 2, 2018. Andre Ardiansyah/Handout via REUTERS

Indonesia’s national disaster mitigation agency said residents heard a loud explosion and saw flaming volcanic rocks thrown at least 2 km (1.2 miles) out of the crater. The eruption lasted for about seven minutes and photographs posted by the agency showed glowing lava streaming from the crater, setting fire to vegetation. “Residents have started evacuating voluntarily,” said Sutopo Nugroho, a spokesman for the agency, adding the airport remained operational and there was no change in the volcano’s alert status.The last time Agung staged a major eruption was in 1963, when more than 1,000 people died and several villages on its slopes were razed.

The airport on Bali reopened on Friday after ash had forced a brief closure and the cancellation of more than 300 flights.

(Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Ed Davies and Andrew Roche)

Guatemala ends victim searches at volcano where 110 died

Eva Ascon, is embraced by a family member as rescue workers search for her rest of her family at the affected by the Fuego volcano at San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

By Sofia Menchu

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Guatemala on Sunday ended its victim search efforts in the zone that suffered most deaths and injuries from the Fuego volcano eruption, its disaster agency said.

At least 110 people died and 197 are still missing after violent eruptions that began two weeks ago, according to disaster agency CONRED.

Eva Ascon, looks on next to rescue workers as they search for her rest of her family at the affected by the Fuego volcano at San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla Guatemala June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Eva Ascon, looks on next to rescue workers as they search for her rest of her family at the affected by the Fuego volcano at San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla Guatemala June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

“The search efforts are permanently suspended in the towns San Miguel Los Lotes and El Rodeo in the Escuintla municipality… the zone is uninhabitable and high risk,” CONRED said in a statement on Sunday.

The Fuego volcano, whose name means “Fire” in Spanish, is emitting four or five minor explosions daily and shooting columns of ash up to 15,420 feet (4,700 meters) above sea level, CONRED said.

Escuintla is operating 12 shelters for nearly 2,800 people displaced from homes that were swallowed by ash and dirt, while more than 770 people are staying in shelters in nearby areas.

Some survivors lost nearly all members of extended families after the volcano sent fast-moving currents of dust, lava and gas down its slopes in its greatest eruption in four decades.

(Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; editing by Diane Craft)

Minor explosion at Hawaii volcano spews more ash into the air

FILE PHOTO: Journalists and National Guard soldiers watch as lava erupts in Leilani Estates during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

(Reuters) – Another small explosion at the summit of Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano shot more ash high into the atmosphere, putting communities in the southern part of the Big Island at risk, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The volcano, which has been erupting since early May, has sent occasional columns of ash and volcanic gas into the atmosphere at between 10,000 (3,050 meters) and 30,000 feet (9,145 meters) above sea level, it said.

On Sunday, another explosion spewed ash from the volcano, creating a driving hazard for roads on parts of the Big Island.

A fissure in the volcano spewed molten rock 160 feet (49 meters) on Tuesday, slightly lower than the 180 feet (55 meters) it reached from Saturday night into Sunday, pushing a steady flow of lava into the ocean, the USGS said.

A representative for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The eruption, which entered its 40th day on Tuesday, stands as the most destructive in the United States since at least the violent 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state that reduced hundreds of square miles to wasteland and killed nearly 60 people, according to geologist Scott Rowland, a volcanologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The Hawaii eruption has caused no casualties, but lava flows have swallowed about 600 homes since May 3, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said last week.

Vacationland, a private development believed to comprise about 160 homes, was completely erased, and at least 330 houses were devoured by lava at Kapoho Beach Lots, Kim said.

On Saturday, hundreds of construction workers and volunteers, including officials from the Hawaii National Guard and the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters, began building 20 temporary housing units in Pahoa for families forced from their homes.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

In Guatemala, woman searches for 50 relatives buried by volcano

Eufemia Garcia, 48, who lost 50 members of her family during the eruption of the Fuego volcano, argues with a police officer trying to enter to search for her family in San Miguel Los Lotes Escuintla, June 9, 2018. Picture taken June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

By Sofia Menchu

SAN MIGUEL LOS LOTES, Guatemala (Reuters) – Eufemia Garcia watched in horror as Guatemala’s Fuego volcano sent scalding ash and gas surging over her home a week ago, burying her children and grandson among 50 of her extended family. She has been searching for their remains ever since.

At least 110 people died after Fuego erupted last Sunday, pushing fast-moving currents of dust, lava and gas down the volcano’s slopes in its greatest eruption in four decades, and close to 200 more are believed buried beneath the waste.

Eufemia Garcia, 48, who lost 50 members of her family during the eruption of the Fuego volcano, looks at rescue workers as they search for her family in San Miguel Los Lotes, Escuintla, June 9, 2018. Picture taken June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Eufemia Garcia, 48, who lost 50 members of her family during the eruption of the Fuego volcano, looks at rescue workers as they search for her family in San Miguel Los Lotes, Escuintla, June 9, 2018. Picture taken June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Among them, Garcia believes, her nine siblings and their families as well as her mother, her own grown-up children and a grandson, making her family possibly the hardest hit in a disaster that officials admit was made worse by delays in official warnings.

The hamlet of San Miguel Los Lotes on the lush southern flank of the volcano was almost completely swallowed by several meters of ash, and formal search efforts have been suspended until the still-erupting volcano stabilizes.

Defying the suspension order, each morning, Garcia, 48, leaves the shelter she now sleeps in, grabs a pickaxe or a shovel and heads into the danger zone, where groups of volunteers and other families dig down through ash hardened by rain and sun to try and reach their homes below.

Another desperate survivor, Bryan Rivera, is searching for 13 missing relatives. All he has found so far in the dust and desolation is a guitar his 12-year-old sister had loved to play.

“I’m not going to give up until I have a part of my family and am able to give them a Christian burial,” Garcia said, her features drawn with fatigue and grief but her voice unfaltering.

A fruit seller who lived for more than three decades with her extended family in Los Lotes, Garcia said she was out purchasing eggs when she saw the volcanic flow racing toward her village.

She sprinted back to her family’s homes, where uncles and a brother, children and cousins were preparing for a lunch to celebrate a sister visiting from a nearby town.

Rapping furiously at one door after the next, she cried for them to flee. Few heeded the warnings. Her 75-year-old mother decided she could not outrun the danger.

Eufemia Garcia, 48, who lost 50 members of her family during the eruption of the Fuego volcano, points the area where use to be her house in San Miguel Los Lotes Escuintla, June 9, 2018. Picture taken June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Eufemia Garcia, 48, who lost 50 members of her family during the eruption of the Fuego volcano, points the area where use to be her house in San Miguel Los Lotes Escuintla, June 9, 2018. Picture taken June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

“Let God’s will be done,” she said.

Desperate, Garcia ran, jumping over fences together with fleeing neighbors. From a safe distance, she saw the burning flow rise to the roof of her house, submerging it completely with her son Jaime, 21, inside. She watched as the ash rushed toward her daughter Vilma Liliana, 23, who sprinted for safety barefoot but was unable to outpace its terrible path.

Her other daughter Sheiny Rosmery, 28, stayed at home, her son in her arms. The visiting sister and her husband have not been found.

With almost no family left, she does not know where she will live next, or what she will do to survive. But for now, she says, all that matters is the search.

She ticks off a list of her missing, including her three children, her mother, her grandson, brothers, sisters, nephews, children of nephews and brothers-in-law, generations of a relatives among the clutch of families that settled in Los Lotes in the 1970s.

The only survivors are Garcia and a brother who long ago moved away.

“I’ve looked here in the morgue and in another morgue, but there is no sign of them,” she said, standing in front of a row of coffins at a makeshift mortuary.

“My family is buried. All 50 of them.”

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Delphine Schrank; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Lisa Shumaker)

Explosion at Hawaii volcano spews ash as lava flows into sea

Gas and steam rise from a volcanic fissure in Leilani Estates during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

HONOLULU, Hawaii (Reuters) – A small explosion at the summit of Hawaii’s erupting Kilauea Volcano on Sunday sent ash spewing into the air, creating a driving hazard for roads on parts of the Big Island, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Lava fountains from a fissure in the volcano reached as high as 180 feet (55 meters) from Saturday night into Sunday, pushing flows of molten rock into the ocean, it said.

“Seismic activity at the crater continues with gas explosions and ash eruptions under 10,000 feet (3,050 meters). While the eruption is never predictable, conditions appear stable for the moment,” Richard Rapoza, a spokesman for Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, said in an email.

Journalists and National Guard soldiers watch as lava erupts in Leilani Estates during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

Journalists and National Guard soldiers watch as lava erupts in Leilani Estates during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

The eruption, which entered its 39th day on Sunday, stands as the most destructive in the United States since at least the violent 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state that reduced hundreds of square miles (km) to wasteland and killed nearly 60 people, according to geologist Scott Rowland, a volcanologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

No one has died in this Hawaii eruption but some 600 homes have been swallowed by lava flows from Kilauea since May 3, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said last week.

Vacationland, a private development believed to comprise about 160 homes, was completely erased, and at least 330 houses were devoured by lava at Kapoho Beach Lots, Kim said.

(Reporting by Jolyn Rosa in Honolulu and Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Writing by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Frank McGurty and Sandra Maler)

Rivers of lava destroy 600 homes on Hawaii’s Big Island: mayor

Lava destroys homes in the Kapoho area, east of Pahoa, during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., June 5, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

By Terray Sylvester

PAHOA, Hawaii (Reuters) – Approximately 600 homes have been swallowed by lava flows from Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island since early last month, marking its most destructive eruption in modern times, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said on Thursday.

The latest estimate of property losses from Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, far surpasses the 215 structures consumed by lava during an earlier eruption cycle that began in 1983 and continued nearly nonstop over three decades.

Kim said Kilauea, one of five volcanoes on the Big Island, formally known as the Island of Hawaii, has never destroyed so many homes before in such a short period of time.

The latest volcanic eruption, which entered its 36th day on Thursday, stands as the most destructive in the United States since at least the cataclysmic 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state that reduced hundreds of square miles to wasteland, according to geologist Scott Rowland, a volcano specialist from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

A similar, extremely violent eruption from Fuego volcano in Guatemala this week killed more than 100 people as it ejected deadly super-heated “pyroclastic” flows of lava and ash through nearby towns.

The latest damage appraisal from Kilauea came moments after Governor David Ige, on a visit to Hawaii County Civil Defense headquarters in Hilo, the island’s biggest city, signed a memorandum of understanding furnishing $12 million in immediate state disaster relief to the island.

Ige and Kim also announced formation of a task force of federal, state and local officials to devise a recovery plan for communities devastated by the eruption, with an eye toward preventing such major property losses in the future.

“Our responsibility is to try to work with the community to rebuild out of harm’s way,” Kim said.

County civil defense officials had a day earlier put the confirmed number of homes destroyed during the past month at 130, all of them in and around the Leilani Estates community, where lava-spouting fissures opened up on the volcano’s eastern flank on May 3.

Lava flows across a highway on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., June 5, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

Lava flows across a highway on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., June 5, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

More recently a huge river of lava that has crept several miles across the landscape to the eastern tip of the island engulfed two entire seaside housing subdivisions – Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland.

Over the course of about three days, a rolling wall of molten rock measuring half-mile across and 10- to 15-feet tall buried hundreds of homes, while vaporizing a small freshwater lake and filling in an inlet called Kapoho Bay, extending about a mile out from what had been the shoreline.

Kim said Vacationland, a private development believed to comprise roughly 160 homes, was completely erased, and that at least 330 houses were devoured by lava at Kapoho Beach Lots. The rest were

The rest of the losses have occurred in the Leilani Estates area, where the toll of destruction has been steadily rising by the day.

“So if you combine the three of them (Kapoho, Vacationland and Leilani), we’re talking about 600 homes,” he told reporters. “I’m talking about 600 families. Don’t forget the farmers, don’t forget the ranchers, don’t forget all the employees for them.”

An estimated 2,500 people have been displaced by evacuations across the island since the eruption began five weeks ago, spouting fountains of lava and high concentrations of toxic sulfur dioxide gas through about two dozen volcanic fissures at the foot of the volcano.

Plumes of volcanic ash belched into the air by periodic daily explosions from the crater at Kilauea’s summit have posed an additional nuisance and health hazard to nearby communities.

So too have airborne volcanic glass fibers, called “Pele’s Hair,” wispy strands carried aloft by the wind from lava fountains and named for the volcanic goddess of Hawaiian myth.

Seaside residents and boaters also have been warned to avoid noxious clouds of laze – a term derived from the words “lava” and “haze” – formed when lava reacts with seawater to form a mix of acid fumes, steam and glass-like particles when it flows into the ocean.

Frequent earthquakes, mostly of relatively small magnitude but numbering in the thousands, have persisted throughout the eruption, adding to the jitters of residents living closest to the volcano.

In addition to destroying homes and other structures, lava flows have knocked out telephone and power lines, causing widespread communication outages, and forced the shutdown of a geothermal energy plant that normally provides about a quarter of the island’s electricity.

(Reporting by Terray Sylvester in Pahoa; Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Sandra Maler, Paul Tait and Michael Perry)

Guatemalan families continue search for victims after volcano eruption

A police officer stumbles while running away after the Fuego volcano spew new pyroclastic flow in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

By Luis Echeverria and Sofia Menchu

EL RODEO, GUATEMALA (Reuters) – The death toll from a volcanic eruption in Guatemala rose to 69 on Monday as family members desperately searched for the missing in makeshift morgues and on streets blanketed with ash.

Guatemala’s national disaster agency, CONRED, increased the death toll as more bodies were pulled from the debris around the village of El Rodeo, which was hard hit by the eruption. Just a fraction of the victims have been identified so far.

At a makeshift morgue in the city of Escuintla, about 30 km (18.6 miles) from the explosion, distraught family members came to search for their relatives among the dead.

Francisco Quiche, a 46-year-old welder, gave a blood sample to try to identify his son’s body, though he already knew his son’s fate.

After evacuating the town of El Rodeo with his family, he returned to search for his son and daughter-in-law. Peering through a hole in the wall of his son’s home, Quiche saw the boy’s body. He fears his daughter-in-law is dead as well.

“We had time to leave, thank God, but I am very sorry for the loss of my son and my daughter in law,” he said through tears. “My son was just 22 years old, the same as my daughter-in-law, who was expecting a baby.”

The eruption of Fuego – Spanish for “fire” – on Sunday was the biggest in more than four decades, forcing the closure of Guatemala’s main international airport and dumping ash on thousands of acres (hectares) of coffee farms on the volcano’s slopes.

By Monday evening, the volcano’s activity was lessening, and is expected to continue to diminish in the coming days, Eddy Sanchez, director of the seismological, volcanic and meteorological institute Insivumeh, told reporters.

The task of retrieving bodies on Monday was hindered by another eruption and an apparent landslide on the southern slopes of Fuego triggered fresh evacuations. Later in the afternoon, heavy rains forced rescuers to abandon the search in El Rodeo until the next morning, a spokesman for CONRED said.

Rains are expected to continue to complicate searches in the coming days, Sanchez said.

Elsewhere, the process of mourning had begun. Local television footage showed residents of villages walking through the streets, caskets hoisted on their shoulders.

Structures and trees at the base of the Fuego volcano were completely coated in brown and gray.

A police officer stumbles while running away after the Fuego volcano spew new pyroclastic flow in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

A police officer stumbles while running away after the Fuego volcano spew new pyroclastic flow in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

Armed soldiers donning blue masks kept watch at a badly affected neighborhood that had been cordoned off, Reuters photos showed. As late as Monday afternoon, the volcano continued expelling a dark cloud of gases and rocks.

Fuego, one of several active volcanoes out of 34 in the Central American country, is near the colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site that has survived several volcanic eruptions. The latest activity is mostly on the far side of the volcano, facing the Pacific coast.

The eruption on Sunday sent columns of ash and smoke 6.2 miles (10 km) into the sky, dusting several regions with ash. More than 3,200 people have been evacuated, CONRED said.

CONRED shared a photo showing the flows of gas and mud sweeping down a mountainside and across a broad valley, engulfing a small village.

“The landscape on the volcano is totally changed, everything is totally destroyed,” government volcanologist Gustavo Chigna said on local radio.

The agency also launched an online registry of missing people.

The eruption showered sand and ash on coffee plants across as much as 6,890 acres (2,788 hectares), including close to the volcano’s cone, causing an estimated loss of 0.91 percent of Guatemala’s coffee production, the country’s national coffee association said.

In some areas, rain rinsed ash off the leaves, and the full extent of the damage was not yet clear, the association said.

(Reporting by Luis Echeverria, Sofia Menchu and Milton Castillo, Writing by Julia Love and Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, David Gregorio, Jonathan Oatis and Michael Perry)