As the rubble from the deadly ash, debris and fire, buried over 200 individuals, a woman’s search to find her missing family began.
Eufemia Garcia watched helplessly as the volcanic explosion consumed her children and grandson, among 50 members of her family, making the Garcias one of the hardest hit families from what is being hailed as the volcano’s greatest eruption in four decades.
Garcia’s village of San Miguel Los Lotes was completely engulfed by the eruption and the efforts to search bodies buried under the debris has been suspended until the volcano stabilizes but official warning have not stopped Garcia, who grabs a pickaxe or a shovel and enters the danger zone with new found defiance to find her family members.
“I’m not going to give up until I have a part of my family and am able to give them a Christian burial,” Garcia said.
Garcia, a fruit-seller, who had lived in Los Lotes for over three decades, was out buying eggs when the volcanic lava raced towards her village. As she ran, pounding warnings onto the doors of her neighbors, not many took her seriously. Her family had gathered for lunch because her sister was visiting from a village nearby.
Garcia’s mother had already resigned to her fate, “let God’s will be done,” she said.
The fruit-seller ran to safety and watched in horror as the burning flow engulfed her house completely with her 21-year-old son inside it and as her daughter Vilma Liliana, 23, failed to outrun it.
Sheiny Rosmery, Garcia’s other daughter, had stayed at home with her sons in her arms.
With no family left, Garcia has no idea where she will live now but her only goal right now is to find her missing family.
She ticks off her list of all the members that are missing since the volcanic eruption. Garcia and her brother, who had previously moved away, remain the only survivors.
Garcia constantly visits makeshift morgues to search for her lost family.
“I’ve looked here in the morgue and in another morgue, but there is no sign of them,” she said. “My family is buried. All 50 of them.”
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: REUTERS/Carlos Jasso