Deaths, injuries reported after volcano erupts in Guatemala

At least 6 killed, 20 hurt by erupting volcano in Guatemala

Volcan de Fuego, Spanish for "volcano of fire", exploded shortly after noon on Sunday.

Only 13 of the dead have been identified so far, Mirna Zeledon, a spokeswoman for Guatemala's National Institute of Forensic Sciences told Reuters.

Guatemala's Fuego volcano has erupted, resulting in further deaths and injuries.

Dramatic footage showed a group of people fleeing pyroclastic flow - a fast-moving mixture of hot ash, lava and gas - as it tore down a bridge.

President Jimmy Morales declared three days of national mourning for the "irreparable losses".

Volcanologist Dr Janine Krippner told the BBC that people should not underestimate the risk from pyroclastic flows and volcanic mudflows, known as lahars.

Guatemala's coast has also been hit by an natural disaster though there are no reports of damage so far.

The Fuego volcano spews ash, as seen from the city of Alotenango in Sacatepequez departament, 65 km southeast of Guatemala City, on February 1, 2018.

Survivors who went back to the village of San Miguel los Lotes on Monday encountered a village turned to rubble by the force of the eruption.

Leading officials fear the toll could rise. "When the lava was already here they passed by in their pickup trucks telling us to leave, but the cars did not stop to pick up the people", said Rafael Letran, a resident of El Rodeo.

Local resident Ricardo Reyes was forced to abandon his home: "The only thing we could do was run with my family and we left our possessions in the house".

A total of about 1.7 million people have been affected in four regions. However, the airport press office says each airline is free to make its own decision about whether to resume flights.

Officials reportedly advised residents to wear masks to protect against any ash still in the air.

How exceptional was the eruption?

The Volcan del Fuego burst into eruption Sunday, hurling ash 14,700 feet (4,500 meters) above sea level and sending flows of pyroclastic materials down its flanks into nearby towns. Fuego's last major eruption was in 1974. Five years earlier the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the capital Manila, kills more than 800.

Sunday's event was on a much greater scale.

The institute also warned of the possibility of lahars - when water mixes with volcanic deposits forming a destructive debris flow - which could affect villages and hamlets to the south, south-west and south-east.

People flee El Rodeo village, Escuintla department, 35 km south of Guatemala City, after the eruption of the Fuego Volcano on June 3, 2018.

"We are evacuating and rescuing people and have reports of 20 wounded, six dead and disappeared". "There are a lot of people here trying to recover bodies or searching for the missing", said Al Jazeera's David Mercer, reporting from the scene. We were at a height of about 3,700m (12,000ft) and not far from the crater when we chose to abort the operation and descend.

"This time we were saved; in another (eruption) no", said Efrain Gonzalez, 52, sitting on the floor of a shelter in the city of Escuintla, where he arrived with his wife and one-year-old daughter.

He heard something hitting his safety helmet and realised that it was not rain that was falling but stones.

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