A volunteer takes a break during a search for the remains of victims of the Fuego eruption, at San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla on June 17 2018. The search was called off later that day. Picture: REUTERS
A volunteer takes a break during a search for the remains of victims of the Fuego eruption, at San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla on June 17 2018. The search was called off later that day. Picture: REUTERS

Guatemala City — The search has been called of for nearly 200 people who went missing in the eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano.

Officials have confirmed the deaths of 110 people as a result of the volcanic eruption on June 3, but another 197 remain unaccounted for.

A spokesman for the government’s civil protection agency, David de Leon, said on Sunday that the agencies involved decided to end the search "due to the fact that the area is uninhabitable and of high risk".

The volcano, 35km southwest of the capital, is still generating four or five weak explosions an hour, sending a column of gray ash more than 1,000m into the sky.

Guatemala’s south-central region was also shaken on Sunday night by a 5.8-magnitude earthquake with its epicentre at Iztapa, on the Pacific coast near neighbouring El Salvador, the civil protection agency said.

There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Additionally, rains were forecast for Sunday, posing a danger of volcanic mudflows.

More than 3,600 villagers have been forced to take temporary refuge in schools and community halls.

The suspended search had been focused on the hardest-hit communities of San Miguel Los Lotes and El Recreo.

The only exception to the suspension is in the area of Alotenango, where volunteer firefighters continued to search for two colleagues who went missing on the day of the disaster.

AFP