The Latest: Experts work to ID volcano victims in Guatemala
Jun. 08, 2018
SAN MIGUEL LOS LOTES, Guatemala (AP) — The Latest on the eruption of Guatemala's Volcano of Fire (all times local):
At a makeshift morgue in Guatemala, forensic workers are trying to identify victims of this week's deadly volcanic explosion.
About 15 experts are doing autopsies on the bodies, which arrive wrapped in sheets and plastic. First they check for identifying items such as clothing, if there is any.
Later they will extract DNA material from the bones — the tissue is too badly damaged by the extreme temperatures of the volcanic flows — to compare with DNA from the blood of people's relatives.
On one table lies the body of a person frozen statue-like in death, its stomach distended and a hand jutting stiffly outward.
A woman takes notes, and another worker photographs the body.
Dozens more bodies are in white plastic bags on wooden pallets.
In all, there are 40 corpses at the morgue, which comprise part of the confirmed death toll of 109. Nearly 200 are said to still be missing.
Guatemalan authorities have ordered new evacuations due to activity at the Volcano of Fire, which erupted violently this week killing at least 109 people.
Disaster agency Conred says there were dangerous flows of volcanic material, water and sediment through four canyons Friday morning, and other areas could also be affected.
Conred is telling residents of the town of El Rodeo to leave their homes. Some had recently returned.
About 200 people are still missing, and the toll of confirmed dead is expected to rise.
Estuardo Hernandez, a 19-year-old worker at a plant nursery in the city of Antigua, is certain he knows where his parents are.
Hernandez was talking to his father, Margarito Hernandez, on the phone this week when millions of tons of volcanic ash tore through San Miguel Los Lotes, a hamlet sitting on the volcano's slope.
"He called me at 3:13 p.m. Sunday," said the younger Hernandez, who was working in Antigua that day. "The last thing he told me was to go far from here ... the last thing I could hear was him saying: 'Get inside! There's a lot of fire out there.'"
Hernandez is sure his parents are buried inside their home.