News

December 11, 2022

Volcano erupts in Guatemala, forcing airport closure

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

The volcano named Fuego — Spanish for fire — rumbled into activity overnight Saturday into Sunday, with molten rock oozing down its slopes and ash belching two kilometers (more than a mile) into the sky. Winds carried the ash toward Guatemala City, 35 kilometers (22 miles) away.

La Aurora international airport, six kilometers south of the capital, was temporarily closed at mid-morning, the General Directorate 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.

In addition, a road that connects southern and central Guatemala was closed as a precaution, said Carlos Aquino, a spokesman for the highway police.

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

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

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

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