Vehicles damaged by an eruption from Fuego volcano are seen beside a firefighter in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, Guatemala June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
Guatemala has been suffering from great losses since gas and ash cascaded down the Fuego Volcano on June 3.
With 37 volcanoes in the country, the locals have developed their way of living with their most dangerous neighbor, yet nobody can ever get ready for the loss of a beloved. On a street in Escuintla, a city located in south-central Guatemala, tears were shed as coffins crushed weight on the shoulders of young men.
These funerals are the Guatemalans’ way of saying goodbye. To them, death is merely a beginning, and souls could only enter the afterworld through rituals like these.
As comforting as it may sound, funerals like these have witnessed a non-stop in the past two weeks. Ninety-five percent of the people who were killed and remains missing in the eruption used to live in Escuintla, the city hit most by the catastrophe.
According to officials, this is due to high density of the population living near the volcano.
“People living by the south of the Fuego Volcano have been increasing over the past years. Communities which used to have only 20 households now have more than 500,” said David de Leon, spokesman for the Guatemala National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED).
Leon also said that actions need to be taken and standards need to be made to bring the population down.
Quite different from Hawaii‘s Kilauea Volcano which erupted in May, the Fuego Volcano is a stratovolcano, a type that hoards gas, making any eruption even worse.
Eruptions of stratovolcanoes could also bring huge amounts of expanded air with its flow speed at 700 kilometers per hour, faster than water. Anyone trapped inside would face little chance of survival.
As painful as it may be, the emotional loss did not come alone. Economic loss is also huge.
“We are still counting up specific numbers, but it is safe to say that it would take really long for our country to recover from such a catastrophe psychologically since we have high poverty rate and a large malnutrition crowd,” said Carlos Vidal, vice minister of Social Development of Guatemala.
Due to the active state of the Fuego Volcano, many tourists have canceled their visiting plans. According to local officials, the loss in the tourism sector has surpassed two million dollars in the past week. — Reuters