AT LEAST 25 people were killed when Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupted on Sunday, belching ash and rock and forcing the airport to close, the country's disaster agency said.
Authorities in Guatemala say 25 people have been killed and hundreds injured by the eruption of a volcano southwest of the capital.
"Temperatures in the pyroclastic flow can exceed 700 degrees (Celsius) and volcanic ash can rain down on a 15-km (9-mile) radius". Lava began flowing down the mountain's flank and across homes and roads around 4 p.m. "That could cause more mud flows and nearby rivers to burst their banks", said Eddy Sanchez, director of Guatemala's seismological, volcanic and meteorological institute.
Dozens of videos appeared on social media and Guatemalan television showing the extent of the devastation.
"Not everyone was able to get out. I think they ended up buried", Consuelo Hernandez, a resident of the village of El Rodeo, told the newspaper Diario de Centroamerica.
In another video, a visibly exhausted woman, her face blackened from ash, said she had narrowly escaped as lava poured through corn fields. But in places like Los Lotes and the village of El Rodeo, about eight miles (12 kilometers) downslope from the crater, it was too late for many.
Soldiers are helping firefighters search for missing people after Sunday's horrific volcanic eruption in Guatemala, when torrents of superheated rock, ash and mud destroyed villages.
Firefighters reported being unable to reach people trapped in areas cut off by the lava. Rescue operations had been suspended until Monday morning due to inclement weather and risky conditions.
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Earlier on Sunday, the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) in Guatemala said fiery clouds of smoke were billowing from the volcano, and that soot had blanketed cars and houses in the nearby villages of San Pedro Yepocapa and Sangre de Cristo.
Twenty people suffered burn injuries, and more than 3,000 were evacuated due to the eruption, which affected rural communities around the volcano as well as Antigua Guatemala, a colonial-era town very popular with tourists in the Central American country, he said.
At an ad-hoc morgue in the town of Alotenango, at least three bodies lay covered with blue sheets.
Almost 3,100 people have been evacuated from the affected area, the country's disaster management agency said. CONRED opened temporary shelters for those who were forced to flee.
The explosion sent ash thousands of feet into the air, but the fast-moving lava flows caught local officials off guard.
President Jimmy Morales, who has declared 3 days of national mourning, visited the disaster zone.
Ash fell on the Guatemala City area as well as the departments of Sacatepequez, Chimaltenango and Escuintla.
Some ash reached the capital of Guatemala City about 25 miles away, temporarily forcing the closure of its worldwide airport.
The eruption of Fuego - Spanish for "fire" - on Sunday was the biggest in more than four decades, forcing the closure of Guatemala's main worldwide airport and dumping ash on thousands of acres of coffee farms on the volcano's slopes.