Search continues as Guatemala toll rises to 72

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Guatemalan authorities have warned the Fuego volcano is showing signs of greater activity, as the death toll from a devastating eruption at the weekend climbed to 75 and almost 200 people remained missing. The institute said that 23 of those recovered bodies had been identified.

And a total of 192 people remain missing since the weekend eruptions, disaster relief agency chief Sergio Cabanas told reporters.

Sunday's blast generated pyroclastic flows - fast-moving mixtures of very hot gas and volcanic matter - which descended down the slopes, engulfing communities including El Rodeo and San Miguel Los Lotes.

A telegramme addressed to Archbishop Nicolas Thevenin, the Apostolic Nuncio in Guatemala by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin on behalf of the Pope, said Francis was "deeply saddened to learn of the news of the violent eruption of the Volcano of Fire, which has claimed numerous victims, caused enormous material damage and affected a significant number of people who live in the area".

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The institute's latest bulletin says the blowing ash could reach heights of about 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) above sea level. It warned civil aviation authorities to closely monitor and take precautions regarding air traffic.

Dozens of people have been seen walking along roads carrying children or a few belongings beside paralysed traffic in parts of the Escuintla township, south of the volcano.

Rescuers, police and journalists hurried to leave the area as a siren wailed and loudspeakers blared, "Evacuate".

On June 3, the volcano spewed black smoke, ash and an 8-km stream of red hot lava in its second eruption of 2018.

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"My respects to you heroes without cloak", one said.

MOURNING: People carry the coffins of seven people who died during Sunday's eruption of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala. Only some communities in Escuintla are under an evacuation order, but even in the more distant central Escuintla, businesses have closed and people are leaving. He said he wanted to express his "consolation to families who are weeping for the loss of their loved ones, as well as spiritual closeness to the wounded and those who are working to help".

The chance of finding additional survivors in the affected area is also dwindling, according to CONRED spokesperson Juan Sanchez.

The volcano has been in eruption since 2002.

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