"Not everyone escaped, I think they were buried", Consuelo Hernandez told local news outlet Diario de Centroamerica. The lava river was running on the other side of the volcano.
After awakening on Sunday, and for the second time this year, the Volcan de Fuego (Volcano of Fire) has generated strong pyroclastic flows in the Barrancas de Cenizas, Mineral, Seca, Taniluya, Las Lajas and Barranca Honda localities, the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction in Guatemala (Conred) said. "There are injured, burned and dead people", he said.
The rescue is being further complicated by rainfall and darkness.
Another victim was found in the streets of El Rodeo by volunteer firefighters and later died in an ambulance.
Guatemala's disaster agency said 3,100 people had evacuated nearby communities, and the eruption was affecting an area with a population of about 1.7 million people. Shelters were opened for those forced to flee. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said he would issue a declaration of a state of emergency to be approved by Congress and urged people to heed warnings from emergency officials.
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"Currently the volcano continues to erupt and there exists a high potential for (pyroclastic) avalanches of debris", the disaster agency said late Sunday via Twitter, quoting Sanchez, the director of the seismology and volcanology institute.
The eruption forced Guatemala City's La Aurora global airport to shut down its only runway due to the presence of volcanic ash and to guarantee passenger and aircraft safety, Guatemala's civil aviation authority said on Twitter.
Lesser amounts of ash fell on Guatemala City, which is 44km (27 miles) from the volcano.
The volcano's peak soars 3,763 meters above sea level.
The volcano is some 25 miles (40 km) southwest of the capital, Guatemala City, and is close to the colonial city of Antigua, which is popular with tourists and is known for its coffee plantations.
Officials have advised citizens to wear masks due to falling ash, which has been raining down in four of Guatemala's administrative regions.