Guatemala City — Guatemala's plastics industry was operating as normally as possible June 4 despite the fatal weekend eruption of one of several volcanoes still active in the Central American country.
Fuego, a volcano 80 miles south of the Guatemalan capital, exploded late Sunday afternoon, burying the nearby village of El Rodeo under hot mud and ash and killing dozens of its inhabitants.
The official death toll as of the afternoon of June 4 is 62, according to the country's national disaster agency, although that number may rise.
Oscar Garcia, a director with Nativo Trading SA, a distributor for masterbatch maker Ampacet Corp. of Tarrytown, N.Y., told Plastics News volcanic ash had forced the closure of Guatemala City's international airport.
The airport was still closed early on in the afternoon of June 4, he said, adding, however, that the plastics industry "is working normally. Nobody's been forced to close."
According to García, the area most affected by the eruption is rural with little or no manufacturing activities. Reuters reported that it is near the Spanish colonial city of Antigua.
Gerry García, no relation, Houston-based Bamberger Polymers International Corp.'s sales manager for Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras, said Guatemala "is an important market and this [disaster] will have an impact."
Guatemala's plastics association Coguaplast reported minimal impact on the activities of its members.
Bamberger, he said, ships polymers to Guatemala from Houston via the Guatemalan sea port of Santo Tomás de Castilla.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales decreed three days of national mourning and declared a "state of calamity" in the states of Escuintla, Sacatepéquez y Chimaltenango.