Where There's Danger, There are Tourists in Guatemala
Rodrigo Abd, AP
The Associated Press is reporting thousands of tourists are flocking to see Pacaya volcano, where rivers of lava are flowing down the slopes, putting on quite a show, particularly at night. But officials say they are worried someone will get killed; that people are risking their lives to see the red hot attraction.
The volcano at Pacaya National Park erupted two weeks ago, and the park was closed even before the May 27 explosion, which killed a reporter who was hit by a shower of volcanic rock, AP reports. But the closure has not stopped visitors from getting what may be too close. They are bypassing the regular road and sneaking through a private farm in the village of Los Picitos. Local entrepreneurs are even charging $1.25 per person to take visitors up the mountain to see the flows.
"Just this weekend 2,000 people or more came by," Lourdes Barillas, head of a fundraising group that's trying to rebuild homes destroyed in the eruption, told AP. Hundreds of people live by the volcano, adding to the feeling among tourists that it may be safer than officials are saying.
A similar scenario exists on the Big Island of Hawaii, where tourists have also been known to bypass National Park Service warnings to see lava flow from Kilauea, and where there have been both deaths and injuries associated with the practice.
Guatemala is also recovering from a recent and devastating tropical storm.
See video of the eruption here: