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Guatemala volcano: Two Latter-day Saints counted among the missing

Two Latter-day Saints are counted among the missing following Sunday’s eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego Volcano that has killed at least 38 people.

All missionaries are safe — but the disaster has exacted a tragic toll on the local Church community and far beyond.

Besides the two unaccounted for members, “there are at least five members who were transferred to the hospital with severe burns,” reported Central America Area Public Affairs Director Julio Alvarado.

The search for survivors was interrupted Monday by another eruption that sent a hot flow of mud, ash and gas down from the volcano. A pyroclastic flow of brown sludge has engulfed the village of El Rodeo, according to Reuters.

Located less than 30 minutes from sprawling Guatemala City, the volcano erupted just before noon Sunday, June 3. A second powerful eruption followed hours later.

More than 3,200 people were evacuated, an important bridge was destroyed and the capital city’s airport was closed for 24 hours.

Meanwhile, some two million people are being affected by the volcano’s ash, which billowed 15,000 feet into the air, according to the New York Times.

The Church is helping care for the more than 1,100 people displaced by Fuego — which means “fire” in English. The Escuintla Guatemala Stake Center is being used as a shelter, and food and other provisions are being purchased with local fast offering funds, said Alvarado.

Church humanitarian response officials are also partnering with local organizations to fly in needed resources to government-operated relief centers near the disaster site.

Guatemala is home to more than a quarter-million Latter-day Saints. The Church operates six missions, two temples and 440 congregations in the Central American nation.