'Nobody is left' - Guatemala volcano ravaged entire families

Guatemala's Fuego volcano

Explosions are continuing while emergency crew hunt for missing people as more pyroclastic flow, a mix of ask, rock and volcanic gases, is now streaming down the volcano.

Cruz said firefighters dug up three bodies during their first hours of work in El Rodeo and San Miguel los Lotes, the two villages filled with small farmers that once nestled in the lush foothills of the volcano that were suddenly transformed into moonscapes by the eruption.

Hundreds of rescue workers, including firefighters, police and the military, were battling adverse conditions to search for remains in the tangled morass of rubble, dust and earth left behind by the landslides.

That eruption unleashed a rapid flow of gas and volcanic debris which quickly enveloped homes nearby, killing those inside.

A photo released by Guatemalan authorities shows buildings and trucks covered in white volcanic ash from the Volcán de Fuego (Volcano of Fire), seen erupting in the top-right image.

Thousands of people are staying in shelters, which includes the Church's Escuintla Guatemala Stake Center. The death toll has risen from 69.

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A deep layer of soot totally covered houses and trees in the town of El Rodeo.

"The people ended up buried in almost 3 metres of lava", Ortiz said.

Seven communities in already devastated areas were evacuated as the volcano's activity increased, with rescue operations halted. "We are talking about a tragedy, a national mourning", Guatemala President Jimmy Morales said. Only 17 have been identified so far, according to Guatemala's National Institute of Forensic Sciences.

"They say they are going to leave them buried there, and we are not going to know if it's really them", the 39-year-old farmer said. My children say they would rather be in the streets. "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".

"Animals have a different sort of resistance. and different behavior when it comes to finding refuge", Sanchez said. At least 46 people have been injured.

Experts said the volcano recorded several weak explosions on Wednesday, generating a fresh 4,700-metre (15,500 feet) high column of grey ash.

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