The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction in Guatemala said Sunday that fiery clouds of smoke were billowing from the Volcan del Fuego and that soot blanketed cars and houses in the nearby villages of San Pedro Yepocapa and Sangre de Cristo.
Sacatepezuez television published images of a charred landscape where the lava came into contact with homes.
Guatemala has two other active volcanoes, Santiaguito in the west and Pacaya, just south of the capital.
Dozens of videos were popping up on social media and local TV, depicting the extent of devastation.
"Not everyone was able to get out".
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"Not everyone escaped, I think they were buried", Consuelo Hernandez told news outlet Diario de Centroamerica. About four hours later, lava began flowing down the side of the mountain.
Hundreds of rescue workers, including firefighters, police and soldiers, worked to rescue any survivors and recover any more bodies amid the still-smoking lava.
Rescue operations were suspended until 5:00 A.M. (1100 GMT) due to unsafe conditions and inclement weather, said Cecilio Chacaj, a spokesman for the municipal firefighters department. Among the fatalities were four people, including a disaster agency official, 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.
Another victim was found in the streets of El Rodeo by volunteer firefighters and later died in an ambulance.
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At an ad-hoc morgue in the town of Alotenango, at least three bodies lay covered with blue sheets.
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.
Farmers covered in ash fled for their lives as civil defense staffers tried to relocate them to shelters during the event. "Evacuations and searches are under way", he said, quoted by Reuters.
Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales said a national emergency is underway.
Ash has effected not only Guatemala City but the departments of Sacatepequez, Chimaltenango, Escuintla, and the popular tourist destination colonial town Antigua.
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