The Volcan de Fuego, Spanish for “Volcano of Fire,” erupted Sunday and released a 5-mile stream of lava, a pyroclastic cloud and ash that fell over nearby Guatemala City, the country’s capital.
About 3,100 people were evacuated and nearly 300 have been injured after the eruption, according to the country’s disaster agency. The airport was also closed because of the danger that floating hot ash posed to aircraft.
Officials reportedly advised residents to wear masks to protect against any ash still in the air.
Smaller villages closer to the volcano, however, were severely affected. Rivers of lava poured into several villages, with media reports showing images of charred bodies and injured residents covered in ash.
One woman who narrowly escaped from a lava flow told news outlet Diario de Centroamerica, “Not everyone escaped. I think they were buried.”
Footage showed rescue teams working in darkness trying to enter homes to look for trapped residents, particularly the elderly.
Fuego’s eruption is the biggest since 1902, when the Santa Maria volcano erupted, killed thousands of people.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said he was convening his ministers and considering declaring a state of emergency in several of the affected areas.
Officials warn that the eruption still poses a risk, especially given the possibility of continued pyroclastic flows.