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Guatemala

Volcanic ash covers Guatemala's capital

Wikipedia / Colocho

Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano erupted on Thursday evening, forcing nearly 2,000 people from their homes, killing one person and injuring at least 20. The nearby capital has been covered by a cloud of black ash, forcing authorities to close the country’s main international airport.

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President Alvaro Colom has declared a state of emergency in the area surrounding Pacaya, which is 40 kilometres from Guatemala City.

A TV journalist was killed by a shower of volcanic rock while filming the eruption.

Three children were declared missing, but later found alive.

1,600 people have been evacuated from the area so far, according to the national disaster relief service, Conred.

Volcanologists have measured plumes of ash almost 1,500 metres above Pacaya’s peak.

The eruption has covered Guatemala City with ash and rock, including its La Aurora airport.

Aviation authorities have suspended all flights until further notice. Any planes heading for Guatemala will be diverted to El Salvador.

Pacaya has not recorded this level of activity since 1998.

Guatemala has 288 volcanoes, eight of them active.

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