Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupted on Sunday for the second time this year, leaving at least 7 people dead and 20 injured, Guatemalan officials said. Video images published by Sacatepezuez television showed a charred landscape where a lava flow came into contact with homes.
"Not everyone escaped, I think they were buried", Consuelo Hernandez told news outlet Diario de Centroamerica.
Hundreds of firefighters, police and soldiers are searching for the missing amid the still-smoking lava.
It is the second time the volcano has erupted this year, setting off loud explosions and spewing ash almost four miles into the sky.
Sergio Cabanas of the National Disaster prevention committee spoke to Reuters and informed that people have been burned and killed including a member of his staff.
Rescue operations were suspended until 5:00 A.M. (1100 GMT) due to unsafe conditions and inclement weather, said Cecilio Chacaj, a spokesman for the municipal firefighters department.
The active volcano is located 25 miles (40 km) southwest of the capital Guatemala City.
A total of about a million people have been affected by the eruption, the Guatemalan government says.
Disaster agency spokesman David de Leon said late Sunday the bodies were found in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes.
At an ad-hoc morgue in the town of Alotenango, at least three bodies lay covered with blue sheets. Shelters were opened for those forced to flee. "Currently the volcano continues to erupt and there exists a high potential for (pyroclastic) avalanches of debris", the disaster agency said via Twitter, quoting Sanchez, the director of the seismology and volcanology institute.
Another 20 people have been injured, and more than 2,000 evacuated near the volcano and several cities, including Antigua.
President Jimmy Morales said he had convened his ministers and was considering declaring a state of emergency in the departments of Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepequez.
The eruption forced Guatemala City's La Aurora worldwide 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.