Big volcanic eruptions in Guatemala, Ecuador

Big volcanic eruptions in Guatemala, Ecuador

Volcano Tungurahua erupts just before midnight on Friday, in Cotalo, Ecuador. AP

Guatemala's Pacaya volcano started erupting lava and rocks on Thursday afternoon, blanketing the country's capital with ash and forcing the closure of the international airport. President Alvaro Colom declared a "state of calamity."

"We thought we wouldn't survive. Our houses crumbled and we've lost everything," said Brenda Castaneda, who said she and her family hid under beds and tables as marble-sized rocks thundered down on her home in the village of Calderas. The family was waiting for rescue teams to take them to a shelter at a nearby school.

Television reporter Anibal Archila was killed by a shower of burning rocks when he got too close to the volcano, about 25 kilometres south of Guatemala City, said David de Leon, a spokesman for the national disaster committee.

The last images of Archila broadcast by Channel 7 television show him standing in front of a lava river and burning trees, talking about the intense heat.

De Leon said three children between the ages of seven and 12 were missing.
At least 1,600 people from villages closest to the volcano have been evacuated to shelters.

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