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Villagers bury the first victims of killer volcano

PICTURE: LUIS SOTO/AP

MOURNERS gathered in the shadow of Guatemala’s smoking Volcano of Fire for the funerals of some of the 69 confirmed victims.

Authorities said they issued a disaster warning when the mountain started erupting on Sunday but it came too late for people living close by.

Hilda Lopez said they were celebrating a birth in San Miguel Los Lotes and went out to view the lava but it rapidly reached their street. ‘My mother was stuck there, she couldn’t get out,’ said Ms Lopez, whose sister is also missing.

Rescuers were using sledgehammers to break through the roofs of houses buried in debris, while experts were resorting to DNA to identify bodies.