The village of San Miguel Los Lotes stands covered in debris after the Volcan de Fuego or "Volcano of Fire" eruption, in Guatemala, Thursday, June 7, 2018: AP Photo/Moises Castillo
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A communication breakdown between a disaster agency and volcanologists in Guatemala delayed evacuations as gas and ash clouds cascaded down the Fuego volcano last Sunday in its most violent eruption in four decades, authorities have admitted.By the time Pedro Morales, a field technician at Guatemala's disaster agency, caught sight of the debris flows, which can move at speeds of up to 190 miles per hour (300 kph), they were already drawing close to houses.While the poor visibility delayed villagers' own reactions to the impending danger, 27 miles (43 km) away in Guatemala City, disaster authorities failed to understand the magnitude of the eruption, meaning the alert level leading to mandatory evacuations was not raised quickly enough, the heads of the responsible government agencies admitted on Wednesday.In a tense meeting at Guatemala's Congress on Wednesday, the head of the country's volcanology institute accused his counterpart at disaster agency CONRED of failing to heed bulletins warning that Fuego was dangerously erupting.The first bulletin from the volcanologists warned of pyroclastic flows descending from Fuego at 6 a.m. (1200 GMT) on Sunday, some eight hours before the disaster agency seriously stepped up evacuation efforts.
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