Search continues as Guatemala toll rises to 72

Search continues as Guatemala toll rises to 72

The fast-moving flows with temperatures as high as 700 Celsius and hot ash and volcanic gases that can cause rapid asphyxiation caught many off guard.

The super-heated debris that buried victims Sunday left many bodies unrecognizable.

Displaced people travel on a motorcycle from an area affected by the eruption of Fuego volcano in Escuintla, Guatemala June 5, 2018. Thick grey ash masking the stricken area was hardened by rainfall, making it much more troublesome to dig by means of the mud, rocks and particles that reached to the rooftops of houses.

It affected more than 1.7 million people, but those El Rodeo, Alotenango, and San Miguel los Lotes were hit particularly hard, with some saying that El Rodeo was "buried".

Fifty-nine-year-old truck driver Efrain Suarez is a resident of El Rodeo who had come to Los Lotes to check damage to the property of friends and family. "And if heavy equipment is available in they are going to be torn aside".

Guatemala's seismological, volcanic and meteorological institute Insivumeh heightened its warnings after the volcano erupted again on Tuesday, forcing evacuations and sending rescue workers scrambling for cover.

"In a matter of three or four minutes the village disappeared", Castillo said. After a cellphone call to Castillo's brother, rescuers arrived and took the family to safety.

However the life they knew was gone.

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"Nobody wants to go back there".

"We are ready when CONRED, as the governing body of emergency management, authorize us to make an appeal", the ministry said in a statement. "For us, there isn't a tomorrow".

Officials also increased the death toll from Sunday's eruption to 75. After the eruption, people say they had to build an impromptu bridge over hot ashes to try and get the injured the help they need.

Lilian Hernandez wept as she spoke the names of aunts, uncles, cousins, her grandmother and two great-grandchildren - 36 family members in all - missing and presumed dead in the volcano's explosion.

"We are analyzing the terrain", said David de Leon, spokesperson for the disaster agency Conred.

"The second round of eruptions in the last 24 hours is contributing to a rising death toll and 1.7 million people are now affected by the disaster".

Firefighters hosed down their smoking boots, which had sunk into molten volcanic material just below the ash surface. An Associated Press journalist witnessed five stretchers carrying bags containing human remains being carried out of Los Lotes.

At midday on Tuesday, the National Forensics Institute said it had counted 72 bodies, including a child who died in hospital suffering severe burns.

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