Guatemala is in a state of crisis today after twin natural calamities struck: First, on May 27 the Pacaya volcano (just 19 miles from the capital) woke up in a bad mood. Lava flowed, black sand and rock and ash spewed everywhere. A newscaster covering the news near the volcano was killed by flying rocks.
The first named storm of the 2010 Pacific season dumped more than a metre of rain in parts of Guatemala, also hitting El Salvador and Honduras. At least 113 people were reported killed, with around 50 missing in Guatemala alone as rescue workers searched through the rubble.
The 30m-diameter sinkhole opened up in a northern district of Guatemala City, with residents blaming the rains and substandard drainage systems. Local reports said one man was killed when the building was swallowed. In 2007, three people died when a similar sinkhole appeared in the same area.
Two days later on May 29, tropical storm "Agatha" struck, destroying homes, causing floods, and creating tens of thousands of internally displaced. Infrastructure in this country—where the majority live in poverty—is very poor, and ill-equipped to handle such a double blow. As of last night, official numbers on storm: about 30,000 "refugees," close to 120,000 evacuated, 93 dead and rising. Guatemala's one international airport has been has been closed for days, and just as it prepares to reopen today, there's word of new volcanic activity.
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