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Guatemala Volcano: Red Cross Teams Deliver Aid Amidst the Ash

Rescue teams in Guatemala are working around the clock after Sunday’s eruption of the Fuego volcano, which claimed at least 99 lives. Nearly 200 people are still missing.

The eruption—Fuego’s most violent in more than four decades—resulted in a five-mile flow of lava and a thick plume of ash and black smoke that has affected the capital city and communities within a 15-mile radius, including the municipalities of La Soledad, San Miguel Dueñas, Alotenango, Antigua Guatemala and Chimaltenango.

Fine ash falls are spreading for some 25 miles to the west, northwest and north of the volcano.

The Guatemala Red Cross has been at the forefront of the response to the disaster from the outset: more than 1,640 volunteers mobilized to provide medical care, transport wounded survivors to hospitals, support evacuations, work in shelters hosting evacuees, and help family members separated by the disaster to reconnect.

The Guatemala Red Cross has opened a collection center in Guatemala City to receive donations, and will also operate Restoring Family Links and blood services. The Restoring Family Links service helps people search for and locate family and loved ones. More information is available below.

“We should not underestimate the scale of this disaster. Critical, emergency needs are still enormous, and affected communities will need sustained and long-term support,” remarked the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Francesco Rocca after his visit to the disaster zone.

“These families are our priority, but the eruptions have had a much larger impact. Fine ash has fallen across more than half of the country, covering areas were agriculture is a key activity. The economic impact of this is unclear. We hope it will not mean a secondary disaster,” said Rocca.

As many as 1.7 million people are estimated to be at risk from falling volcanic ash from the eruptions. The potential impact of the disaster is huge: falling ash can be a hazard to people’s health and is a threat to livestock and crops. There is also a risk of water sources being contaminated, and the destruction of infrastructure such as water and sanitation systems, roads and bridges.

For real-time updates, follow @CRGuatemalteca.

Are you looking for a loved one?

The Guatemalan Red Cross is accepting tracing requests for cases in which family contact has been lost due to the Fuego volcano eruption. If you are looking for a missing relative, you can speak to a caseworker at your local American Red Cross office. Please find your nearest chapter by clicking this link and entering your zip code.

For inquiries concerning U.S. citizens missing in Guatemala, please contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 and http://www.usa.gov/directory/federal/overseas-citizens-services.shtml.

Help people affected by the Guatemala Volcano

Help people affected by the Guatemala volcano, by writing “Guatemala Volcano” in the memo line of your check donation or by filling out the cause donation form. You can mail the form or give it to your local American Red Cross chapter. You can also call your local Red Cross chapter to make a gift. Your donation enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this crisis.

Media inquiries:

In Panama: Diana Medina, IFRC, +507 6780-5395, diana.medina[at]ifrc.org

In Washington DC: American Red Cross, 202-303-5551, media[at]redcross.org

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.