Pacaya Volcano, Tropical Storm Agatha Target Guatemala

May 29, 2010; 3:15 PM ET
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Flooding rain and mudslides from Tropical Storm Agatha and possible additional eruptions from Pacaya Volcano are threatening Guatemala this weekend.

A volcano, named Pacaya, located about 15 miles south of Guatemala City, erupted Thursday, showering the capital city with up to 3 inches of ash.

The ash covered the landscape in Guatemala City and nearby areas, including runways and aircraft at La Aurora airport, which remained closed into the weekend.

The volcano has been spewing ash and lava flows on occasion since the mid-1960s.

While activity from Pacaya was diminishing into Saturday, seismologists were concerned for another major eruption soon.

The grounds surrounding a church in Calderas, Guatemala were covered with ash Friday, May 28, 2010, following the eruption of Pacaya Volcano. AP Photo / Moises Castillo.

According to the Associated Press, officials have asked the nearly three million residents of Guatemala City to "not" leave their homes. However, at least 1,600 people in villages nearest the plume of ash and stones were evacuated. Close to 1,000 homes had been damaged or destroyed

According to CNN, a TV reporter and two villagers were killed by a rain of stones hurled by the eruption.

The fate of three children said to be missing was not known.

Meanwhile, nearby in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, an area of showers and thunderstorms became better organized Friday night and strengthened into the Americas first tropical depression of the season early Saturday morning.

The system strengthened at midday and is now Tropical Storm Agatha in the Eastern Pacific Basin.

To make matters worse, the system was drifting east toward the area impacted by Pacaya.

Agatha was already dropping areas of heavy rain on Guatemala and southern Mexico.

From 10 to 20 inches of rain is forecast to fall on part of southeastern Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador into early next week by meteorologists.

Up to 3 feet of rain could fall on the mountains and hillsides in the region as the system pushes east-northeastward across the region in the form of a tropical rainstorm.

The combination of ash-clogged drains could lead to serious flooding problems in Guatemala City.

While thus far the threat from the volcano is suffocating ash and airborne stones in the immediate vicinity and downwind of the mountain, the risk of loss of life from flash flooding and mudslides from Agatha is very high over a very broad area from extreme southern Mexico to El Salvador.

It is possible a spin-off from Agatha could generate into the Atlantic Basin's first tropical depression or storm of the 2010 season, after moving eastward through the mountains of Central America.


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