Guatemala's Fuego Volcano Eruption: Shocking New Pictures Emerge

Around two million people have been affected by the volcano, and an as yet unknown number of people are missing.
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Guatemala's Fuego Volcano Eruption: Shocking New Pictures Emerge Luis Echeverria/Reuters

The death toll from a volcanic eruption in Guatemala has risen to 69 as family members desperately search for the missing in makeshift morgues and on streets blanketed with ash. Around two million people have been affected by the volcano, and an as yet unknown number of people are missing.

Guatemala's national disaster agency, CONRED, increased the estimated death toll as more bodies were pulled from the debris around the village of El Rodeo, which was hard hit by the eruption. Just a fraction of the victims have been identified so far.

According to firefighters, many bodies were found under tons of ashes and sands in southern Escuintla, one of the worst-hit areas. Rescuers used their bare hands or simple shovels to search for survivors.

At a makeshift morgue in the city of Escuintla, about 18.6 miles from the explosion, distraught family members came to search for their relatives among the dead.

Francisco Quiche, a 46-year-old welder, gave a blood sample to try to identify his son's body, though he already knew his child's fate.

After evacuating the town of El Rodeo with his family, he returned to search for his son and daughter-in-law. Peering through a hole in the wall of his son's home, Quiche saw the boy's body. He fears his daughter-in-law is dead as well.

"We had time to leave, thank God, but I am very sorry for the loss of my son and my daughter in law," he said through tears. "My son was just 22 years old, the same as my daughter-in-law, who was expecting a baby."

The eruption of Fuego—Spanish for "fire—on Sunday was the biggest in more than four decades, forcing the closure of Guatemala's main international airport and dumping ash on thousands of acres of coffee farms on the volcano's slopes.

Elsewhere, the process of mourning had begun. Photos show residents of villages walking through the streets, caskets hoisted on their shoulders. Other images show structures and trees at the base of the Fuego volcano are completely coated in brown and gray ash. Here are the latest photos of the disaster, which show the extent of the devastation.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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A soldier keeps watch at a restricted area. Luis Echeverria/Reuters