Airport closed as volcanic ash coats planes

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — A shift in wind blew ash from an eruption at the Pacaya volcano over Guatemala City on Tuesday, and authorities closed the airport as ash coated planes and planes parked at the terminal.

The 2,552 metre volcano, just 50 kilometres south of Guatemala’s capital, has been active since early February.

Guatemalan Civil Aviation Director Francis Argueta did not say how long the closure would last. Volcanic ash is highly abrasive and can damage airplane engines and other mechanical devices.

Tourists frequently hike up to visit Pacaya’s peak, but those trips have been temporarily cancelled.

Pacaya has a clear view of the nearby Volcano of Fire, which erupted in 2018, emitting a fast-moving avalanche of super-heated muck that killed at least 110 people and left about 200 missing.

Pacaya had an explosive blast in 2010 that killed a reporter and two local people.

A Copa Airlines plane is dusted in volcanic ash at the La Aurora international airport which has been closed due to an eruption at the Pacaya volcano in Guatemala City. PHOTO: AP