SAN MIGUEL LOS LOTES, Guatemala – Guatemalan authorities ordered new evacuations of rescue workers and nearby villages on Friday as activity heats up again at the Fuego Volcano. the eruptions began on Sunday without warning, killing at least 109 people, with hundreds of villagers still unaccounted for.
Michael Caponni arrived from Guatemala on Friday, after his Global Empowerment Mission led a team of volunteers into the most affected areas to assess the situation and aid in the recovery and relief mission. They have responded to natural disasters before, but they have never seen anything like this.
"It was like an atomic bomb had just blown everything up," said Alison Thompson, a volunteer. "People evaporated and just turned into statues and clay. You don't even have a second to get away or run away."
In fact, while they were there they witnessed even more eruptions from the Fuego Volcano. Miami-Dade firefighter Lourdes Sanchez Breton was at ground zero where the earth was still smoldering with lava and volcanic mud.
Hundreds vanished and the search and recovery mission is still on going. Sanchez Breton plans to return next week with volunteers from her non-profit organization United Badges of Honor.
"Ideally the magic number will be 20 to 25," Sanchez Breton said. "We have a 72 hour window."
Meanwhile, Capponni and Thompson focused on helping the thousands of survivors who have been displaced.
"Everything they have ever owned, their entire life is gone, so now they are basically in a camp and then we try to bring some aid to the camp," Capponni said. "We took South Florida donations, we went to the supermarket, we filled 15 to 20 different shopping carts and then we brought it the next day."
Volunteers said they plan to return to the survivors' camps next next week with more resources. They need to buy more badly needed relief supplies. If you would like to help them with their mission visit the Global Empowerment Mission's site.