More than 3,100 people evacuated nearby communities, and the eruption was affecting an area with a population of about 1.7 million people. Authorities have been unable to account for an undetermined number of people and say they fear the death toll could rise.
Wounded and traumatised survivors of the Fuego volcanic eruption in Guatemala are being rushed to hospital by the Red Cross, as urgent work continues to evacuate communities from the danger zone.
Dramatic video showed a fast-moving lahar, or flow of pyroclastic material and slurry, slamming into and partly destroying a bridge on a road between Sacatepequez and Escuintla.
Steaming lava flowed down the streets of a village as emergency crews entered homes in search of trapped residents, another video on a different local media outlet showed.More news: European Union to impose extra tariffs on USA imports from July
"Not everyone was able to get out".
The speed of the eruption took locals by surprise, and could be explained by it producing pyroclastic flows, sudden emissions of gas and rock fragments, rather than lava, said Volcanologist David Rothery of Britain's Open University. But in places like Los Lotes and the village of El Rodeo, about 8 miles downslope from the crater, it was too late for many.
Most villages near the base of the volcano have been covered in mud and ash.
Search and rescue operations had suspended due to low light and unsafe conditions, but were resumed early on Monday morning.
Among the fatalities were four people, including a disaster agency official, killed when lava set a house on fire in El Rodeo village, national disaster coordinator Sergio Cabanas said.
Among the dead were two children who burned to death as they stood on a bridge watching the volcano erupt, the AP reported.More news: Two Pruitt Aides Resign as E.P.A. Ethics Questions Continue
Farmers covered in ash fled for their lives as civil defense workers tried to relocate them to shelters.
Explosions are still coming from the volcano, said Eddy Sánchez, director of the National Institute for Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology of Guatemala known as INSIVUMEH.
According to reports, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is considering declaring a state of emergency in the areas most affected by the eruption.
Ash from the volcano, which lies about 27 miles (44 kilometers) west of Guatemala City, fell on the capital area as well as the departments of Sacatepequez, Chimaltenango and Escuintla. It is located near the colonial city of Antigua.
The eruption forced Guatemala City's La Aurora worldwide airport to shut down its only runway due to the presence of volcanic ash and to guarantee passenger and aircraft safety, Guatemala's civil aviation authority said on Twitter.More news: Job Openings Hit Record High, Outnumber Jobless for First Time
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