On Sunday, June 03, a surprise eruption at the Volcano of Fire (Vulcan de Fuego) sent lava, boiling mud and searing ash into villages around its flanks killing at least 69. People of the villages skirting the mountain began mourning the few dead who could be identified.
“There was no electricity in the hardest hit areas of Los Lotes and El Rodeo, so most searching continued only until sunset. As dawn broke Tuesday, the volcano continued to rattle, with… eight to 10 moderate eruptions per hour — vastly less intense than Sunday’s big blasts.
“‘It is very difficult for us to identify [the dead] because some of the dead lost their features or their fingerprints’ from the red-hot flows, said Fanuel Garcia, director of the National Institute of Forensic Sciences. ‘We are going to have to resort to other methods… and if possible take DNA samples to identify them.’
“Sunday’s eruption caught residents of remote mountain hamlets off guard, with little or no time to flee to safety… Bodies were so thickly coated with ash that they looked like statues. Rescuers used sledgehammers to break through the roofs of houses buried in debris up to their rooflines to check for anyone trapped inside.
“Hilda Lopez said her mother and sister were still missing after the slurry of hot gas, ash and rock roared into her village of San Miguel Los Lotes, just below the mountain’s flanks. ‘We were at a party, celebrating the birth of a baby, when one of the neighbors shouted at us to come out and see the lava that was coming,’ the distraught woman said. ‘We didn’t believe it, and when we went out the hot mud was already coming down the street. My mother was stuck there, she couldn’t get out,’ said Lopez, weeping and holding her face in her hands. Her husband, Joel Gonzalez, said his father had also been unable to escape and was believed to be ‘buried back there, at the house.’
“Conred spokesman David de Leon said the volcano first erupted around midday Sunday, billowing smoke and ash miles into the sky. Then around 2 p.m., came a new, more powerful explosion. Soon, searing flows of lava, ash and rock mixed with water and debris were gushing down the volcano’s flanks, blocking roads and burning homes. ‘It traveled much faster. It arrived in communities right when the evacuation alerts were being sent out,’ de Leon said.
Authorities scrambled to issue an evacuation order. Some communities emptied out safely. But in places like Los Lotes and the village of El Rodeo, about eight miles (12 kilometers) downslope from the crater, it was too late for many. The fast-moving flows overtook people in homes and streets with temperatures reaching as high as 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit (700 Celsius), and hot ash and volcanic gases that can cause rapid asphyxiation.
“We had the information from our scientific service, and they told us the trend was that the activity was diminishing.” de Leon said. Consequently, the surprise volcanic explosions caught the villages unprepared. Emergency crews in helicopters managed to pull at least 10 people alive from areas cut off by the flows. Conred said 3,271 people had been evacuated.
Meanwhile, the volcano in Hawaii continues to erupt in “slow motion” and has so far destroyed 159 homes and covering eight square miles with lava and ash before reaching the sea, sending plumes of steam mixed with fine particles of glass into the atmosphere.
Scenes from this volcano remind us of the sudden destruction that came upon the wicked inhabitants of Pompeii as lava and ash swept into the city burning people to death, which can now be seen as statues in the bodily positions they were in. As the Spirit of God is gradually being withdrawn from the earth, increasing disasters and sudden death will become more and more frequent. These are warnings of the impeding destruction of the whole world.
In his vision of the great judgment day, Isaiah witnesses the consternation of those unprepared to meet their Lord in peace. “The day of the Lord is at hand,” he exclaims; “it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt: and they shall be afraid.” Isaiah 13:6-8. Review and Herald July 1, 1915.