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Deadly Volcanic Eruption in Guatemala Disrupts Travel to Area

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By Sebastian Modak, Condé Nast Traveler

It was the nature of Sunday's eruption at Guatemala's Fuego Volcano that made it so deadly: The 12,345-foot-high volcano, one of Central America's most active, unleashed a pyroclastic flow, a fast-moving mix of hot lava, pumice, ash, gas, and debris that destroys everything in its path. Sixty-nine people are reported dead, most of them residents of the villages that dot the volcano's slopes, according to CNN, and 3,000 residents have been evacuated. Local geologists warned that other eruptions and dangerous mudslides could follow so the area should be avoided. As of today, access to Fuego and the nearby Acatenango volcano, both popular with hikers, is off-limits.

The regions of Sacatepéquez, Escuintla, and Chimaltenango, all affected by Fuego's eruptions, are under a state of emergency, according to the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala issued an emergency alert on Monday for those same areas, including a reminder not to try to hike the volcano at this time.

La Aurora International Airport, in the capital of Guatemala City, some 30 miles from the volcano, was closed following the eruption due to ash blanketing the tarmac. It reopened Monday morning, but flights in and out of Guatemala are operating at the discretion of airlines, according to the U.K. FCO. A search of live flight data at the airport revealed that flights are operating relatively close to schedule, with some delays. Still, if you have a flight scheduled to Guatemala, it's worth checking with your airline to make sure it's still operating.

Fuego is in the southern region of the country, just 10 miles from Antigua Guatemala, a city popular with tourists for its colonial architecture and the three volcanoes that dominate its horizon. While most hotels in the city-proper appear to be open, some in the outskirts have been affected by the eruption. La Reunion Golf Resort and Residences, a sprawling campus on the city's outskirts closer to the volcano, was completely evacuated and photos of the grounds show the once verdant land completely blanketed in thick ash.

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