At least 99 dead as Guatemala volcano threatens new eruptions

Mount Vesuvius

Volcan de Fuego, which means "Volcano of Fire" in Spanish, is one of several active volcanoes among 34 in the Central American country. According to local media, all guests and staff were safely evacuated.

The eruption on Sunday sent columns of ash and smoke 10 kilometres into the sky, blanketing several regions.

The death toll is expected to rise as residents of remote mountain villages were caught off guard, with little or no time to flee to safety.

Alfonso Castillo, a 33-year-old farm worker, said nothing seemed abnormal on Sunday - but then the situation became significantly more unsafe.

Thousands of people are staying in shelters, which includes the Church's Escuintla Guatemala Stake Center. Rescuers, police and journalists hurried to leave the area as a siren wailed and loudspeakers blared, "Evacuate!"

"This can serve as a tiny bit of consolation for the people", Diaz said. Homes were buried to the roofline by ash and mud.

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Firefighters say the chance of finding anyone alive is practically non-existent 72 hours after Sunday's volcanic explosion. The bodies were recovered by search and rescue teams, Guatemala's National Institute of Forensic Studies confirmed, saying that only 23 have been identified so far.

The 3,763-meter (12,346-foot) volcano erupted early Sunday, June 2, spewing out towering plumes of ash and a hail of fiery rock fragments with scalding mud.

Firefighters hosed down their smoking boots, which had sunk into molten volcanic material just below the ash surface. "They are taking away our opportunity to say goodbye". Rescuers are still struggling to locate people due to homes and roads being completely covered in volcanic ash. "There's a lot of people suffering right now because they lost their family, they lost their home, they lost everything they had, and there is a lot of people missing".

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said they have released more than 250,000 Swiss francs ($253,446) from its global emergency fund to support frontline emergency efforts.

The scenes of devastation were accompanied by heartbreaking stories of whole families that were devastated by the disaster - the biggest eruption from the mountain in four decades.

Pope Francis is mourning the victims of Guatemala's Volcano of Fire eruption and sending his prayers for their families and the rescue crews trying to help survivors.

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