Search for El Fuego eruption survivors focuses on mountain hamlets

Ash-covered cars

GETTYAsh-covered cars near Guatemala's Fuego volcano

Once-green hillsides, villages, and farms are now covered in complete grey after the Volcan de Fuego sent avalanches of super-heated muck over the area Sunday.

The fiery volcanic eruption on Sunday in south-central Guatemala killed scores as rescuers struggled to reach people where homes and roads were charred and blanketed with ash.

In the first few hours, the ash and mud was so hot, rescuers had a hard time reaching victims and by the time they made it out to some of them it was too late.

Garcia Ixpata said 20 of her family members are missing.

Volunteer firefighters search for victims of Sunday's Fuego Volcano eruption in Alotenango, a municipality in Sacatepequez Department, southwest of Guatemala City on June 6, 2018.

It is Guatemala's deadliest volcanic eruption for more than a century.

The country's seismology and volcanology institute warned of new flows descending this afternoon through canyons on the volcano's western slope toward the Pantaleon River, carrying boulders and tree trunks.

Guatemala's disaster agency has ordered new evacuations from areas around the Volcano of Fire because of increased volcanic activity that raises the threat of further flows of searingly hot gases and ash.

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The Fuego volcano erupted yesterday, sending lahars down the side of the mountain and huge plumes of ash into the air.

The death toll is expected to rise as residents of remote mountain villages were caught off guard, with little or no time to flee to safety.

Thousands of people were affected by the volcanic eruption, with about 3,500 seeking refuge in shelters.

With tragedy all around, hope stays alive for miracles as at least 10 people have been pulled alive from the ash, including a baby found unharmed.

"Mr. President, my family is missing", she said.

Alfonso Castillo, a 33-year-old farm worker, said nothing seemed abnormal on Sunday - but then the situation became significantly more risky.

Figures for the dead were tweeted by Guatemala's National Institute of Forensic Sciences. My children say they would rather be in the streets.

Everything in the search area is covered in a thick blanket of dust, with police having to use red ink to mark homes that had already been searched for bodies. "There's a lot of people suffering right now because they lost their family, they lost their home, they lost everything they had, and there is a lot of people missing".

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