Six dead or missing after Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupts

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One of Central America's most active volcanos erupted Sunday (local time), sending out fiery explosions of molten rock that killed at least seven people and injured many while a towering cloud of smoke blanketed nearby villages in heavy ash.

Today, hundreds of Guatemalans were affected by Guatemala's Fuego volcano that erupted. "There are injured, burned and dead people", Sergio Cabanas, the general secretary of Guatemala's Conred disaster agency, said on radio.

"Unfortunately El Rodeo was buried and we haven't been able to reach the La Libertad village because of the lava and maybe there are people that died there too", said CONRED's Cabanas.

The death toll rose late Sunday with 18 bodies found in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes, disaster agency spokesman David de Leon said, adding to the seven victims previously confirmed elsewhere earlier in the day.

The eruption of the 3,763-metre Volcan de Fuego - meaning "volcano of fire" in Spanish - was the most powerful in recent years, according to the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology (Insivumeh).

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Villages were also covered in ash in the initial spews.

City workers sweep volcanic ash brought by the Volcan del Fuego, in Guatemala City.

Lava streamed down the streets of a village as emergency crews searched homes looking for trapped residents, another local news outlet reported.

"We think that there could be a state of devastation in at least three areas", said President Jimmy Morales.

The capital's worldwide airport has also been closed due to the danger the ash poses to planes.

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It is close to the popular tourist destination Antigua, which is known for its coffee plantations.

Photos and videos posted on social media showed bodies strewn atop the lava flow, which was around 5 miles long at one point. Hours later, around 4 p.m., lava began flowing down the side of the mountain.

BBC News reports officials advised residents to wear masks as ash fell.

Guatemala's disaster agency said 3,100 people had evacuated nearby communities, and ash fall from the eruption was affecting an area with a population of about 1.7 million of the country's 15 million or so people.

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