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Guatemala volcano: Several dead as Fuego volcano erupts

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Seven people have been killed and nearly 300 injured after Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupted, officials say.

The volcano, about 40km (25 miles) south-west of the capital Guatemala City, has been spewing black smoke and ash into the sky.

The National Disaster Management Agency (Conred) said a river of lava hit the village of El Rodeo, destroying houses and burning people inside.

In Guatemala City, La Aurora airport has been closed due to ash.

President Jimmy Morales said a national emergency response had been launched.

This eruption is the biggest since 1974, according to local experts.

The Conred head Sergio Cabañas told a local radio station that a river of lava had changed course towards El Rodeo.

“It’s a river of lava that overflowed its banks and affected the El Rodeo village. There are injured, burned and dead people.

“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.”

Mr Cabañas later said the dead included a member of his agency’s staff.

Three children are among the seven so far confirmed dead.

An ash-covered woman told the Diario de Centroamerica that lava had poured through corn fields and she thought more people may have died.

“Not everyone escaped, I think they were buried,” Consuelo Hernandez said.

A total of about 1.7 million people have been affected by the eruption, the Guatemalan government says.

Officials have advised citizens to wear masks due to falling ash, which has been raining down in four of Guatemala’s administrative regions.

A disaster authority spokesman said a change in wind direction was to blame for the volcanic ash falling on parts of the capital.

The Guatemalan military said it was providing assistance including clearing volcanic ash from La Aurora airport’s runway.

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