KSHB-TV reports that members of a local church are OK and trying to get home after a volcano erupted in Guatemala on Sunday.
Seven people from Church of the Ascension in Overland Park were in San Lucas Toliman for a week-long project working with the elderly. The group was en route to Antigua Sunday and were about 2 to 3 miles from the volcano when it erupted. The trip took place from May 28th-June 4th.
Jennifer Lyon, who is with the group in Guatemala, told 41 Action News in an email they were greeted with an ash storm when they arrived at the city.
On Sunday, Volcan de Fuego, or Volcano of Fire, spewed a fountain of scorching-hot lava and thick clouds of black smoke and ash that cascaded over several regions of the Central American nation, including the capital, Guatemala City.
The death toll from the eruption now tops 70 people with hundreds more wounded in the eruption. Because of the depth of ash and lava, rescuiers believe the death toll could mount as family members report missing relatives and neighbors. More than 3,200 residents of communities near the volcano have been moved and new evacuation orders were issued today.
Lyon said the airport recently reopened, and the group is waiting to see if flights will be allowed out. Lyon said the runway is currently covered with ash.
As the magnitude of the eruption becomes more evident, the United States followed the lead of Israel in offering help. Shriners Hospitals for Children, a Florida-based charity providing pediatric specialty care in 22 non-profit medical facilities, said in a statement Tuesday that it will admit several children who are in critical condition with burn injuries from Sunday’s eruption.
The U.S. military was expected to move the children more than 1,500 miles to the Galveston Shriners Hospital pediatric burn center in Galveston, Texas, according to the charity.
Relieve efforts are being hampered by the continuing rain of ash and the depth of ash on the ground which reaches three feet in many areas.