Israel rushes emergency aid to Guatemala after volcano eruption kills 25
NOE PEREZ (AFP)
Israel said Monday that it would send emergency aid funding to Guatemala after the country's Fuego volcano erupted killing at least 25 people.
The Foreign Ministry said that it would immediately send $10,000 to assist in the purchase of medicine, food, and blankets for those affected by the disaster.
Guatemala was one of the few countries to side with the United States after President Donald Trump's December recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, breaking with decades of US diplomacy and international consensus.
On May 16, Guatemala opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, just two days after the US. Since then Paraguay has also followed suit.
It was not immediately known whether Israel, a leader in emergency and disaster response efforts around the world, would send search and rescue teams to assist in response and recovery.
“We will later carry out an evaluation with the Guatemalan authorities,” the ministry said in a statement.
Local search and rescue efforts were suspended on Sunday due to low light and dangerous conditions. They were expected to resume Monday morning.
A spokesperson for Guatemala's National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred) said that as of 9:00 pm (0300 GMT Monday), the death toll stood at 25.
Cabanas said that the dead included a civil protection official and others trapped by muddy material that descended from the 3,763-meter (12,346-foot) volcano.
The volcanic eruption sent ash billowing over the surrounding area, turning plants and trees gray and blanketing streets, cars and people. Farmers covered in ash fled for their lives as civil defense staffers tried to relocate them to shelters during the event.
Dense ash blasted out by the volcano shut down Guatemala City's international airport, civil aviation said. People were working to clean ash off the runways to get the airport operating again.
Earlier, Conred chief Sergio Cabanas and President Jimmy Morales held a news conference, saying that the eruption had affected more than 1.7 million people.
Morales said that hundreds of personnel from the police, Red Cross and military have been dispatched to support emergency operations.
He declared a red alert for Escuintla, Chimaltenango and Sacatepequez, the areas most affected by the eruption, and an orange alert throughout the rest of the country.
The president said he and his government would determine whether to ask Congress to declare a state of emergency in the areas, while at the same time appealing to the population for calm.
It is the second major eruption this year from the peak, following another that subsided at the beginning of February after sending ash towering 1.7 kilometers into the sky.
Guatemala has two other active volcanoes, Santiaguito in the west and Pacaya just south of the capital.
(Staff with AFP)
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