"People here in San Felipe refuse to leave and that is why we are here", said this emergency worker".
Officials said the speed and ferocity of the eruption took mountain communities by surprise, with numerous dead found in or around their homes.
"The bodies are already charred", the 59-year-old truck driver said.
Rather than releasing orange lava flows, Fuego instead released what is known as a pyroclastic flow: a mix of superheated rock, ash and toxic gases that can reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius. What was once a collection of green canyons, hillsides and farms was reduced to grey devastation by fast-moving avalanches of super-heated muck that roared into the tightly knit villages on the mountain's flanks.
The pyroclastic density currents were as devastating as the hot lava flows seen in the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea, if not more so, because one can usually run away from lava, according to University of Hull geology department head Rebecca Williams, who spoke with The Daily Beast.
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"In a matter of three or four minutes the village disappeared", he said, adding that it became smothered in what he described as a "sea" of muck. Rescuers, doctors and journalists were taken to safety, firefighters said.
A lucky few, like retiree Pantaleon Garcia, was able to load his grandchildren into the back of a pickup with a jug of water and some food, to go to stay with relatives in another town. Majority lost nears and dears including parents, spouses, children, brothers, and sisters. "For us, there is no tomorrow". After the eruption, people say they had to build an impromptu bridge over hot ashes to try and get the injured the help they need.
"You feel powerless", she said.
"The sad news is there's a bunch of recovery of bodies of children and adults there".
Concepcion Hernandez, who had burns on half of his body, died in hospital after suffering a kidney failure, the paper reported.
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Seventy-five deaths have been confirmed so far, a toll that is expected to rise with at least 192 said to be missing. About 3,500 were in shelters, many with their homes and livelihoods destroyed.
Guatemala's disaster agency is calling for calm, but after receiving little or no warning before the volcano exploded Sunday, many people are not taking chances.
Sergio Cabanas, executive secretary of the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction of Guatemala (CONRED), updated the information in a press conference.
But authorities revealed how just 17 victims have been identified, with distraught family members desperately search for missing relatives in makeshift morgues and streets blanketed in volcanic debris.
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