Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano has erupted, sending volcanic material more than 400 metres in the air, authorities say.

The Institute of Vulcanology warned that the eruption could intensify with ash rising as high as 1000 to 2000 metres, posing a threat to air traffic at Guatemala’s international airport.

“Ash could spread over Guatemala City due to the direction of the wind,” the country’s disaster response office said in a statement.

The last major eruption of Pacaya, in May 2010, claimed the life of a television journalist, drove thousands of people from their homes and forced the closure of the Guatemala City airport for five days.

The 2552 metre-high Pacaya is 50 kilometres south of the capital and one of three active volcanoes in Guatemala.

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