Three pastors are reported to have died in the volcanic eruption in Guatemala, including one who was part of family that lost 18 members. The total death toll is now nearing 100.
Univision reported on Tuesday that Camilo Antonio Galicia Pamal, an evangelical pastor from the village of El Rodeo in Escuintla, was one of 18 family members to parish among the ashes of the Fuego volcano, which erupted on Sunday.
The pastor died at the Missionary Church alongside his wife, five of his children, and four grandchildren.
His brother, Marco Antonio Galicia Pamal, only found out about the number of family members who killed when he arrived at the morgue.
“I came here to find out that almost my whole family had died. I feel like I cannot stand up. I had never felt such pain in my heart,” the man said.
Another pastor, Cash Luna, told CBN News that pastor Pamal’s body was found embracing the pulpit of his church.
Not long before his death, the evangelical preacher had said on social media that “empathy and love of the people could be seen breaking unnecessary religious barriers put forth by the world.”
Irma Pamal, one of the pastor’s daughters who survived, said that she has been taking tranquilizers since Sunday night.
“I was in my house when everything happened, I managed to go out with several of my relatives, but those of other houses could not,” she added.
Three pastors are believed to have died so far, with BBC News adding that 99 people in total are confirmed dead, with another 200 still missing.
Entire villages were buried in volcanic ash, with smaller eruptions and high temperatures making relief efforts very difficult. The Guatemala government said that 1.7 million people have been affected so far, with over 3,000 evacuated.
Several Christian aid groups have been sending crisis response teams to help families that have been displaced by the natural disaster.
World Help said that it has been providing food, medical aid and personal hygiene items to people.
“Our hearts are broken for the loss of life and for the thousands of families that have lost everything,” said World Help founder Vernon Brewer in a statement.
“This is a moment when our kindness and compassion should meet the level of need. We are calling everyone who is able to give to help us provide emergency aid to families that have lost everything, and to give them hope for a better tomorrow.”
Missions group AMG International in Guatemala said that its ministry and communities were also affected.
“We have communities where we’re working where virtually everybody in the community has lost their total livelihood because all the crops that they have planted have been totally destroyed. It’s going to take about a year’s time for them to get close to back on their feet,” AMG’s Bill Passons told Mission Network News on Wednesday.
Passons said that people need food, shelter, and clothing the most right now, praising those stepping in to help.
“There [are] lots of agencies, big government-type agencies that are stepping in and we praise the Lord for that. But there [are] needs for food, there is need for medication. Specifically, we have a lot of burn victims,” he added.