WARNING: Confronting images.

VICTIMS who were unable to flee the devastating eruption of Guatemala's 'Volcano of Fire' have been found like statues as authorities begin the grim process of recovering bodies.

Volcan de Fuego exploded into life when it rained a deadly combination of hot lava - which reportedly reached 700C - smoke and ash onto towns surrounding the mountain.

The head of the country's disaster agency, Sergio Cabanas, said at least 33 had been killed in the eruption, and warned the death toll was expected to rise.

The speed and ferocity of the deadly cloud caught many victims unaware with some people still taking videos and photos of the eruption even as it bore down on them.

"We were at a party, celebrating the birth of a baby, when one of the neighbours shouted at us to come out and see the lava that was coming," San Miguel Los Lotes resident Hilda Lopez reportedly recalled.

"We didn't believe it, and when we went out the hot mud was already coming down the street."

"My mother was stuck there, she couldn't get out."

Rescue works estimated nearly 300 people have been injured but the remoteness of the area means whole villages remain unaccounted for and a definite number cannot be reached.

The body of a victim is covered in volcanic ash spewed by the Volcan de Fuego, or “Volcano of Fire” in Escuintla, Guatemala.
The body of a victim is covered in volcanic ash spewed by the Volcan de Fuego, or “Volcano of Fire” in Escuintla, Guatemala. AP

However, the gruesome work of recovering bodies is painting a fearsome picture of the quick and deadly effect of the eruption.

Some workers have complained the affected areas are still too hot and that their shoes are melting as they work.

While some victims were completely covered by the ash that the seemed to be like statues - asphyxiated by the noxious gasses.

The disaster agency said over 3,000 people had been evacuated while the fallout was affecting 1.7 million people.


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