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

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

A river of lava destroyed homes and burnt people inside as the Fuego volcano pumped black smoke into skies southwest of Guatemala City this morning.

Sacatepezuez television showed images of the volcano's damage including the charred landscape and three bodies laid partially buried in ash-colored debris from the volcano. Other videos show residents walking barefoot and covered in muddy residue.

National Disaster Coordinator Sergio Cabanas said an undetermined number of people were missing following the eruption of the Volcan de Fuego, which is 44 kilometres from Guatemala City.

Rescue operations were suspended until 5:00 A.M. (1100 GMT) due to risky conditions and inclement weather, said Cecilio Chacaj, a spokesman for the municipal firefighters department.

Volcan de Fuego, which translates to "volano of fire" exploded just before noon on Sunday, 27 miles from Guatemala City.

The river of lava has reportedly changed direction and is now heading toward a small town.

It's the second time this year it has erupted.

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"Not everyone escaped, I think they were buried", Consuelo Hernandez told local news outlet Diario de Centroamerica.

A total of about a million people have been affected by the eruption, the Guatemalan government says. Another victim was found in the street by volunteer firefighters but died in an ambulance.

Disaster agency spokesman David de Leon says about 300 people have been evacuated from nearby villages, which are being blanketed by ash as fiery smoke billows almost four miles into the sky. Shelters were opened for those forced to flee.

President Jimmy Morales said a national emergency response was under way.

The Fuego eruption resulted in closure of La Aurora airport of the country's capital of Guatemala City, the TV Azteca broadcaster reported on Sunday citing the Guatemalan Coordinating Agency for Disaster Reduction (CONRED). Streets and houses were covered in the colonial town of Antigua, a popular tourist destination.

The conical Volcan de Fuego reaches an altitude of 12,346 feet above sea level at its peak.

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