Updated at 5:30 a.m. ET
At least 25 people are dead and hundreds injured after Guatemala’s Mount Fuego, one of Central America’s most active volcanoes, began spewing ash and lava. Authorities feared the toll could rise as many people were missing after the sudden eruption.
Volcan de Fuego, Spanish for “volcano of fire,” exploded shortly after noon on Sunday. By 4 p.m. local time, lava began flowing down the mountain’s side, according to The Associated Press.
It is the second time this year that the volcano has erupted.
Reuters reports that the volcano, located just 20 miles southwest of the capital, Guatemala City, shot steam 5 miles into the sky and thick black smoke and ash blanketed the area around the capital.
Eddy Sánchez, the director of Guatemala’s National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology, tells the newspaper Diario de Centroamerica that ash was falling north and east of the volcano, in San Luca, Antigua Guatemala, Alotenango, Chimaltenago and Zaragoza.
Reuters writes: “The charred bodies of victims laid on the steaming, ashen remnants of a pyroclastic flow as rescuers attended to badly injured victims.”
Most of the victims reported initially were from the village of El Rodeo, according to Guatemala’s El Periódico newspaper.
“It’s a river of lava that overflowed its banks and affected the El Rodeo village. There are injured, burned and dead people,” Sergio Cabañas, the general secretary of Guatemala’s CONRED national disaster management agency, said on radio.
According to AP:
“Video images published by Sacatepezuez television showed a charred landscape where a lava flow came into contact with homes. Three bodies lay partially buried in ash-colored debris from the volcano, which lies about 27 miles (44 kilometers) from Guatemala City.
Other videos from local media showed residents walking barefoot and covered in muddy residue.”
“Not everyone was able to get out. I think they ended up buried,” Consuelo Hernandez, a resident of the village of El Rodeo, told Diario de Centroamerica.