Jun 11, 2018
A toxic shower of red-hot debris hurtled down the Fuego mountainside in Guatemala on June 3, swallowing whole towns. At least 100 people died, and 200 more are missing.
It turns out the Guatemalan disaster agency only began warning people to evacuate as the debris was hurtling towards their homes, even though the country’s volcano scientists had warned of an eruption eight hours earlier. “We saw people from CONRED (Guatemala’s disaster agency) passing by in their cars, but my wife only realized what was happening when people came fleeing,” one local resident reported. The disaster agency blames the scientists, saying its reports were not clear. But one thing is clear – hundreds of people died because they were not warned in time.
People in Guatemala knew the Fuego volcano was dangerous – its name means “fire” in Spanish. Early warning systems for disasters like this exist throughout the world – but not in impoverished Guatemala.
This country has been dominated by the U.S. for more than a century. The bulk of its wealth has been sucked out by U.S. corporations during that whole period, instead of going to set up basic services like volcano early warning systems. The Fuego deaths are a direct consequence.