Authorities in Guatemala say 25 people have been killed and hundreds injured by the eruption of a volcano southwest of the capital.
National disaster reduction squad CONRED said the number of dead had risen to 25, including a CONRED employee, following the eruption of Volcan del Fuego.
The volcano is one of the most active in Central America, and is located 27 miles (44 kilometers) southwest of Guatemala City, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) near the popular tourist destination of Antigua Guatemala. More than 1 million people in nearby communities are affected by the eruption, CONRED said.
National Disaster Coordinator Sergio Cabanas said four people died after lava set a house on fire. Two additional children were burned while standing on a bridge to watch the eruption.
Officials said the casualties occurred mainly in the towns of El Rodeo, Alotenango and San Miguel los Lotes.
„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,” Cabanas said.
The volcano spewed ash nearly four miles into the sky. Some ash also has fallen on the capital.
Around 3,100 people have been evacuated from surrounding area, according to CONRED.
This is the second time Volcan del Fuego has erupted this year, however officials have said this is the most violent eruption to occur in decades.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said on Facebook that the national emergency system has already been put in place. He added he was considering declaring a state of emergency in the areas of Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepequez.
The alert level has been raised across the area.
Guatemala City’s La Aurora international airport shut down its only runway due to volcanic ash, Guatemala’s civil aviation authority said on Twitter.
Video on social media shows lava and smoke billowing from the volcano. People were seen covered in ash, fleeing the scene by foot.