Friday, December 1, 2023

Climber killed while in restricted area on volcano El Popo

One person died and another was seriously injured after five climbers from México state tried to climb to the top of the Popocatépetl volcano on Wednesday.

According to Ana Lucía Hill Mayoral of the Interior Ministry (Segob), the group started out on Wednesday afternoon from the Paso de Cortés in the state of Puebla, a stretch of land between Popocatépetl and its dormant neighbor the volcano Iztaccíhuatl. The group was apparently originally accompanied by a local tour guide who left them at some point during their trek up the volcano as they edged closer to the peak of Popocatépetl, considered dangerous and off-limits to hikers and climbers.

The group had been climbing without the knowledge of local authorities, but radioed in at some point Wednesday evening to inform the México state police that they were at the top of the volcano, which had begun to erupt. They reported that two of members of their group had been injured, and that they feared for their lives.

Search parties were sent out as soon as authorities were alerted, but rescue efforts were complicated by the fact that the climbers were stranded in a 50-meter-deep gully and at an altitude of almost 5,000 meters above sea level. Inclement weather including rain and snow overnight on Thursday also made the rescue slow and difficult.

In a video from Webcams de México, the rescue team’s lamps can be seen descending the volcano.

Popocatépetl is North America’s second highest volcano at almost 5,500 meters above sea level. It is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world thanks to its close proximity to the more than 20 million people in Mexico City’s metropolitan area, and a history of devastating eruptions during its long lifetime. It is also one of the country’s and the continent’s most active volcanoes, spewing smoke and volcanic rock on a regular basis.

Some of that volcanic rock is believed to be what killed the female climber in the group when she was hit with debris as the volcano erupted during their climb. Another climber found by the search parties had been seriously injured with a broken femur and broken ribs by a tool that had punctured his body. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The other members of the group have so far been reported as uninjured.

With reports from El Sol de Puebla and Mi Morelia

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