Derry backpacker Dean Kerlin, 32, among many to help Guatemalan relief effort following recent volcanic eruptions in the country. Around 75 people are expected to have died after the first eruption on Sunday.
Kerlin, according to the Belfast Telegraph, described the area near the Volcan de Fuego as one of panic as the volcano appears to be becoming increasingly active. Many backpackers from both Ireland and the UK are volunteering with current relief efforts after Sunday’s initial eruption.
Kerlin has been using his Tropicana Hostel that he owns in town in order to run a volunteer relief operation.
“I’ve got a big van at the hostel we use for tours, we’ve been using it take supplies from Antigua (one of the nearby towns),” Kerlin told the Press Association. He has also involved in going to other towns with fellow volunteers from the UK and other countries to drop off supplies these past few days.
Many are concerned that while these relief efforts are great in the meantime, it will be a different story for the long term where there is a great deal of uncertainty. Kerlin believed that these villages won’t be the same again.
These towns are very poor so rebuilding efforts will be difficult if they start in the first place, but locals are still willing to help out in any way they can for the time being. “I was chatting to a guy who was driving one of the vans with supplies, he had lost four or five family members - uncles, aunties, cousins - but he was still helping out,” Kerlin went on to say.
75 people are dead and almost 200 are missing in Guatemala due to eruptions from the Fuego volcano. Authorities warned that the volcano is showing signs of heightened activity, forcing thousands to evacuate. pic.twitter.com/3GS1nhePr9— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 6, 2018
The eruptions have also caused air quality concerns, particularly in that ash was blown more than 16,000 feet above sea level and other volcanic remnants were blown eastward. The weather has also been a hindrance to relief efforts since Guatemala is in the middle of its wet season, which could make the ground hazardous, according to 22-year-old Matt Goldsmith, a British freelance journalist.
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One of the big problems facing the people there now, as Goldsmith noted, is that drinking water has been contaminated by volcanic ash so they cannot drink it, and local crops have been almost completely wiped out for the same reason.