Lava from the Pacaya volcano threatens to bury the town of Patrocinio in Guatemala

Lava from the Pacaya volcano threatens to bury the town of Patrocinio in Guatemala

There have been at least two dozen recorded eruptions and now it threatens to wipe out a Guatemalan population of 500 families.

The Pacaya volcano, located between the departments of Escuintla and Guatemala, in the southwest of the Central American country, began to expel a river of lava that is getting closer and closer to the town of Patrocinio and also threatens the village of San José el Rodeo.

Now the neighbors try to organize themselves and ask for help from the authorities and international cooperation to evacuate the area.

Although they know that this means that they will have to start their lives over from scratch.

“What can we do?”

This Friday a new emergency meeting of the residents of Patrocinio was held.

As the arrival of the lava to their homes seems “almost unstoppable”, the vast majority of the residents ask for an evacuation plan.

This was explained to BBC Mundo by Carlos Donis, president of the local Community Development Council.

“We are looking for the best way to leave our houses and coordinating, but until now the authorities have not presented us with an immediate action strategy ”, he indicates.

The neighborhood leader acknowledges that abandoning Sponsorship will mean “losing everything” for many of them, but says that at this time they see no other option.

“The lava continues to advance, what can we do? We have to take our things, otherwise everything will be devastated, “he says.

“We have the lava 400 meters from the community.”

Most of Patrocinio is dedicated to working in factories that are installed in the surroundings.

The lava river has already reached some fields. (EPA).

80% of the inhabitants of the town, says Donis, have nowhere to go and that is why they ask the government for help Guatemalan.

The volcano

The Pacaya volcano is more than 2,500 meters high.

It began leaking lava from one of its cracks and expelling ash and smoke from its crater two and a half months ago.

“We don’t know how long it can last. It can be many months or years in which the volcano expels lava and it advances about 5 or 10 meters per day until it reaches the communities ”, explains Gino González, a volcanologist who works for the organization Volcanes sin Fronteras.

The expert indicates that this phenomenon is “very common” in Pacaya and recalls that a similar or even stronger it was already produced in 2010.

“We are talking about one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala and it is foreseeable that at some point the lava flow that it emits reaches the communities,” he says.

The volcano began leaking lava from one of its cracks and expelling ash and smoke from its crater two and a half months ago. (EPA).

The volcano began leaking lava from one of its cracks and expelling ash and smoke from its crater two and a half months ago. (EPA).

González adds that “the issue is that you don’t know when you can stop. It is a kind of language that is expanding very slowly, but without stopping ”.

“This only ends when the eruption begins to stop and the advance stops, but if the flow remains at these levels, its expansion cannot be prevented,” he says.

The expert indicates that the activity of the Pacaya resembles the Fagradalsfjall from Iceland, which also has fissures that expel lava flow.

Alert and monitoring

The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction of Guatemala affirmed that it carries out permanent monitoring of the advance of the lava and coordinates with the populations in danger.

The entity reported that the flow did not increase this Friday.

The Guatemalan authorities issued an alert since Tuesday before the advance of the lava river.

The National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology of Guatemala detailed that the lava flows are about 370 meters from the first villages and that it has already reached some coffee plantations.

The entity indicated that the magma tongue already reaches the 3.7 kilometers in length.

The volcano has not stopped expelling ash and smoke. (EPA).

The volcano has not stopped expelling ash and smoke. (EPA).

At the end of February the authorities began operations to evacuate national tourists who visited the national park on the slopes of the volcano.

22 towns with 20,000 people are found in the surroundings of the mountain, among them the most threatened: Patrocinio and San José el Rodeo, where 50 families live.

The Pacaya is one of the three active volcanoes in Guatemala along with Fuego and Santiaguito. In total, the Central American country has 32 mountains volcanic.

In June 2018 there was a tragedy due to the eruption of Fuego that left at least 200 dead and more than 100 missing.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.