Guatemalan disaster chief accused in volcano deaths lawsuit

Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupting on June 3, 2018

Guatemala City (AFP) – Guatemalan lawmakers filed a manslaughter suit Wednesday against the head of the country’s civil protection agency over its failure to warn people about the eruption of the Fuego volcano, which left at least 112 dead.

Erwin Alvarez, of the opposition Parliamentary Front for Transparency, filed the complaint against Sergio Cabanas, head of disaster management agency CONRED, for manslaughter and breach of duty. 

He told reporters that Cabanas and others had failed “to order the evacuation of surrounding communities” on June 3 as the volcano erupted.

He said the civil protection authority “did not take account in a timely manner” the warnings issued by the Institute of Volcanology about the intensity of the eruption. 

Officials have confirmed the deaths of 112 people, but scores more remain unaccounted for. Thousands were left homeless.

The prosecutor’s office is already working on a separate investigation over alleged negligence.

CONRED spokesman David de Leon said the agency was cooperating with the investigation.