The volcano is one of Central America's most active, and everyone was accustomed to rumbling and spewing smoke, so at first nothing seemed unusual Sunday, the 33-year-old farm worker said.
Still-hot volcanic material and the threat of heavy rains displacing loose deposits were posing a serious risk to the safety of emergency workers, said agency spokesman David de Leon.
Subsoil temperatures hit up to 700 degrees during the height of the eruption, and now the search is well under way clearing the rubble of shattered homes, looking for bodies. Their chances of having survived in the superheated pyroclastic ash storm are slim to none.
The strong eruption of the volcano and the constant volcanic activity has affected some 1.7 million people, 12,407 were evacuated, 7,393 transferred to hospitals, 4,137 are living in shelters, 197 are reported missing and 58 were injured, according to data from the relief agencies.
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Rocca noted that ash had fallen across more than half of Guatemala, covering areas where agriculture is crucial. Recovery efforts have been suspended.
The suspension may be lifted if conditions on the ground improve, he added.
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The agency said seven of the latest victims were in a temporary morgue installed close to the impact zone, in the now-devastated community of San Miguel Los Lotes in Escuintla, south of the capital Guatemala City.
Seventy-five deaths have been confirmed so far, a toll that is expected to rise with at least 192 said to be missing.
That's the window beyond which officials earlier said it would be extremely unlikely to find any survivors amid the ash, mud and other debris that buried homes up to their rooftops.
The U.S. government expressed its "deepest condolences" to the victims on Thursday and said it was sending emergency aid at Guatemala's request, including an unspecified amount of financial resources to help meet food, water, and sanitation needs.
"My father, my mother, my sisters are there", she said, upset over rescuers' decision to suspend their search.
Hospital officials began working with Guatemalan and USA officials to mobilize this effort within 24 hours of the disaster, so the victims would be able to get immediate treatment and care.