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Guatemala's Volcano of Fire erupts, thousands evacuate

Published on Sep 14, 2012 9:41 AM
The Fuego volcano eruption seen from the Palin municipality, Escuintla departament, 55 km south of Guatemala City on September 13, 2012. -- PHOTO: AFP

ESCUINTLA, Guatemala (AFP) - A series of powerful eruptions of Guatemala's Volcano of Fire blanketed villages in dense clouds of ash, and prompted evacuation orders for over 33,000 people.

The massive columns of smoke from the volcano could be seen from the capital, some 75km away, and motorists said they saw a huge cloud of ash coming down slopes.

"This type of eruption is stronger than normal and hasn't been seen in recent years. That's why we have declared an orange alert" in the area around the volcano, in western Guatemala, Gustavo Chigna of the National Institute for Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology told local media.

He said the eruption had buried several villages in ash near the 3,763m tall volcano. Rumbling could be heard for several kilometres around.

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