June 25, 2018 / 10:35 PM / in 20 days

Guatemala asks U.S. for migrant protections due to volcano fallout

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemalan migrants to the United States should receive temporary protection from deportation because of recent volcanic eruptions in their home country, Guatemalan officials said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Guatemalan asylum seeker Ruben Prado (C) waits on the Mexican side of the Gateway International Bridge after being denied entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers near Brownsville, Texas, U.S., June 24, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

President Jimmy Morales said on Twitter he had instructed his Foreign Ministry to petition the United States for temporary protected status for the country’s migrants.

“The request is a response to the catastrophe caused by the Fuego volcano,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marta Larra said.

FILE PHOTO: Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales speaks during a news conference in Bogota, Colombia February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga

Fuego, which means fire in Spanish, lies about 25 miles (40 km) southwest of the capital, Guatemala City, near the picturesque colonial town of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site.

The volcanic eruptions began on June 3, killing at least 112 people, and leaving many more displaced or missing.

The U.S. Department of State did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Fuego volcano’s eruptions showered ash over nearby towns and spewed pyroclastic flows throughout the area. The 3,763-meter (12,346-feet) peak is one of several active volcanoes among the 34 located in Guatemala.

Reporting by Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City and Mohammad Zargham in Washington; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by G Crosse and Cynthia Osterman

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