The road in front of Fuego volcano is seen covered with ash after the volcano erupted violently, in San Juan Alotenango, Guatemala June 3, 2018. Hours later, around 4 p.m., lava began flowing down the side of the mountain. "That could cause more mud flows and nearby rivers to burst their banks", said Eddy Sanchez, director of Guatemala's seismological, volcanic and meteorological institute.
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 from local media showed residents walking barefoot and covered in muddy residue.
The head of the National Disaster Prevention Authority Sergio Cabañas told a local radio station that a river of lava had changed course towards a small town. Hundreds of rescue workers, including firefighters, police and soldiers worked to recover bodies from the still-smoking lava. In darkness and rain, the rescue effort was ordered suspended until early morning, municipal firefighters spokesman Cecilio Chacaj said.
Among the fatalities four people were killed when lava set a house on fire in El Rodeo village, Cabanas said.
This is the second time the volcano has erupted this year.
"Unfortunately El Rodeo was buried and we haven't been able to reach the La Libertad village because of the lava and maybe there are people that died there too", said CONRED's Cabanas.
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Some 3,100 people evacuated nearby communities, and the eruption was affecting an area with a population of about 1.7 million people.
Farmers covered in ash fled for their lives as civil defense staffers tried to relocate them to shelters during the event.
President Jimmy Morales informed that a national emergency response team has been activated.
Lesser amounts of ash fell on Guatemala City, which is 44km (27 miles) from the volcano.
The active volcano is located some 25 miles (40 km) southwest of the capital Guatemala City and is close to the colonial city of Antigua, popular with tourists and known for its coffee plantations.