Nearly 200 missing, 73 dead from Guatemala volcano

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Authorities cautiously resumed search and rescue operations Wednesday in towns and villages devastated by the eruption of Guatemala's Volcano of Fire, with time quickly running out to find any survivors. According to local media, all guests and staff were safely evacuated.

It sent huge clouds of ash barrelling over the surrounding area, blanketing roads, cars and people in thick grey dust as a river of molten mud carved a path down the mountain, sweeping away entire villages. The death toll from a devastating eruption at the weekend has climbed to an estimated 85 and some 200 remain missing.

Alfonso Castillo, a 33-year-old farm worker, said nothing seemed abnormal on Sunday - but then the situation became significantly more risky.

The report of new flows comes shortly after the agency announced new evacuations Tuesday afternoon and pulled back rescuers, police, journalists and others from towns destroyed after Sunday's volcanic eruption.

"The people ended up buried in almost 3 metres of lava", Ortiz said.

There are fears many more could be buried beneath volcanic ash and debris.

The institute says only 23 of the recovered bodies have been identified so far.

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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.

The body of a victim is covered in volcanic ash spewed by the Volcan de Fuego, in Escuintla, Guatemala, June 4, 2018.

Firefighters say the chance of finding anyone alive is practically non-existent 72 hours after Sunday's volcanic explosion.

Naomi Diaz said the volunteers wanted to pitch in because they saw that people needed help. Rescuers wearing hard hats, masks and goggles used shovels to dig through homes, unearthing at least one body burned beyond recognition.

A Guatemalan rescue team worker carries a girl in El Rodeo, Escuintla, Guatemala, June 3, 2018, after the eruption at Fuego volcano, which killed scores.

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. Numerous victims are unrecognisable, with officials warning that DNA testing and other methods may be needed to identify them.

These funds will help "Guatemala Red Cross support 3,000 of the most vulnerable survivors for three months", they added.