Guatemala 'fire volcano' eruption subsides

People walk near a car covered with ash in town of Antigua, on the outskirts of Guatemala City, after the Fuego volcano belched black ash into the sky on Saturday, causing the government to evacuate 100 nearby residents and forcing the closure of the
People walk near a car covered with ash in town of Antigua, on the outskirts of Guatemala City, after the Fuego volcano belched black ash into the sky on Saturday, causing the government to evacuate 100 nearby residents and forcing the closure of the capital's international airport. -- PHOTO:REUTERS

GUATEMALA CITY (AFP) - Guatemala's Fuego volcano calmed down Sunday after an eruption blanketed nearby towns in ash, the nation's volcano monitor reported.

Guatemala City's La Aurora airport remained closed due to ash that had fallen on the runway.

Ash had stopped falling on the city, the volcano institute said, warning however that columns of soot could still drift back towards the city.

The Fuego volcano, whose name means fire in English, spewed large columns of ash on Saturday, prompting an orange alert and forcing nearby residents to wear protective masks.

Officials issued a warning to the country's civil aviation agency, and flights were halted as a result.

The nation's natural disaster agency, meanwhile, advised people to remain on alert in case the volcanic activity increases.

Located in southwestern Guatemala, Fuego measures 3,763 metres tall, and is one of several active volcanoes in Guatemala.

Periodic volcanic eruptions in Guatemala can reach over 1,500 metres into the sky and cause frequent travel warnings.

In 2012, several thousand people were evacuated from Fuego's slopes after a large eruption spewed thick ash into the atmosphere.