Young volcano victims flown to U.S. as grim recovery continues

Author: CBS News
Rescue workers gather in the disaster zone covered in volcanic ash near the Volcan de Fuego, or “Volcano of Fire, in the El Rodeo hamlet of Escuintla, Guatemala, Wednesday, June 6, 2018. Firefighters said the chance of finding anyone alive amid the still-steaming terrain was practically nonexistent 72 hours after Sunday’s volcanic explosion. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Six children inured by the devastating volcanic eruption in Guatemala were in Texas on Thursday morning to receive treatment for serious burns. A U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane carrying the children landed overnight in Galveston.

The patients were immediately transported to Shriners Hospital for Children, which specializes in serious burns, for treatment.

The devastating eruption on Sunday is blamed for almost 100 deaths, and about 200 others were still missing on Thursday.

CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez is in Escuintla, and has watched as exhausted crews continue the grim work of searching for victims — virtually all hope of finding survivors lost.

Authorities have warned of the potential for even more toxic lava flows, and put up roadblocks to keep people away. While residents cast a wary eye to the danger looming at the top of the Volcano of Fire, many were still refusing to leave.

After the volcano’s biggest eruption in four decades, help is arriving to the areas cut off by the lava flows, but in the village of San Miguel Los Lotes — now buried under as much as 10 feet of ash — the chances of finding anyone alive are slowly disappearing.

Bojorquez went with a rescue worker to part of the village that hadn’t yet been reached. The crews knew they were looking for bodies. There was no real sense that there could be any survivors left.

CBS News cameras were there as workers pulled lifeless bodies from the wreckage.

Satellite images show a striking difference in the same town just four months ago. Now much of it is destroyed, and what remains is covered in mud, ash, and rubble.

It is painstaking work for the recovery crews. Bojorquez watched as they tried to peel back the layers of a tin roof from a home that was almost submerged by the toxic flow.

Outside the disaster area, residents have lined up for hours to receive supplies — some of them having spent days without food, and even water, with lava flows contaminating many local supplies.

In Esquintla, the lava flows were within striking distance, but still many were refusing to follow a mandatory evacuation order.

One man told Bojorquez he was afraid looters would ransack his home if he left.

With the threat of more eruptions, evacuation orders have quadrupled in number to include more than 12,000 people. In the coming days, more aid from the United States is expected to arrive.

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