Guatemala’s national airport to remain closed as Pacaya volcano erupts again

May 29th, 2010 - 5:13 am ICT by BNO News  

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA (BNO NEWS) — The Pacaya Volcano near Guatemala City is generating another violent eruption on Friday with smoke columns of up to 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) high, the Guatemalan Geological Service said.

“The Pacaya volcano has entered a new eruptive phase similar to the eruption last night, with explosions and ash columns reaching heights between 1,000 and 1,500 meters (3,500 to 5,000 feet),” said a special bulletin from the Guatemalan Geology Institute.

Local officials said the ash cloud is moving north at 18 kilometers per hour (11 mph), and more ashfall in Guatemala City is expected soon.

On Friday afternoon, President Alvaron Colom said La Aurora International Airport will remain closed for at least another 36 hours.

Emergency officials revised down the death toll from three to two but confirmed that three people remain missing following the first eruption, which occurred just after 7 p.m. local time on Thursday. At least 67 people were injured as volcanic debris fell on villages.

As of Friday evening, more than 2,000 people have been evacuated from the nearby areas. Local authorities urged citizens to remove the ash and debris from houses and streets to avoid flooding due to a possible blockage in the sewers.

Civil Aviation spokeswoman Monica Monje said La Aurora International Airport was closed since the beginning of ashfall. Only the Tikal El Peten Airport is open and any Guatemala-bound flight will be diverted to El Salvador.

President Colom has declared a ’state of calamity’ following the eruption.

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