Israel is sending aid to Guatemala after a devastating volcanic eruption killed at least 69 people.

By: United with Israel Staff

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced it was sending aid to Guatemala after a fiery volcanic eruption in the country sent lava flowing into rural communities, killing at least 69.

The $10,000 worth of aid includes food, medication and blankets.

Israel will maintain contact with the Guatemalan government and send further support as required, the Ministry said.

“We follow with worry the eruption of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala. Our hearts go to the victims and their families. From Israel we extend solidarity and friendship,” MFA spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted.

At least 20 people were injured in the eruption, and authorities said they feared the death toll could rise with an undetermined number of people as yet unaccounted for.

The Volcan de Fuego, or “Volcano of Fire,” exploded in a hail of ash and molten rock shortly before noon on Sunday, blanketing nearby villages in heavy ash. Lava began flowing down the mountain’s flank and across homes and roads.

Eddy Sanchez, director of the country’s seismology and volcanology institute, said the flows reached temperatures of about 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit (700 Celsius).

Hundreds of rescue workers, including firefighters, police and soldiers, worked to help survivors and recover
bodies amid the still-smoking lava.

Guatemala’s disaster agency said 3,100 people had evacuated nearby communities and that volcanic ash was affecting an area of about 1.7 million of the country’s 15 million citizens. Shelters were opened for those forced to flee.

“Currently the volcano continues to erupt and there exists a high potential for avalanches of debris,” the disaster agency said late Sunday via Twitter.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said he would issue a declaration of a state of emergency to be approved by Congress and urged civilians to heed warnings from emergency officials.

Israel and Guatemala have recently experienced a significant warming of relations after the Central American country moved its embassy to Jerusalem last month.

“It is not a coincidence that Guatemala is opening its embassy in Jerusalem two days after the US. You are always among the first,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the opening ceremony.

Guatemala supported the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and was the second country to recognize it, after the US. “We remember our friends and Guatemala is our friend, then and now,” Netanyahu said.

“We share so many goals and values even though were are so far away,” the prime minister added, saying he would advance the bilateral relationship in “practical ways.”

AP contributed to this report.

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