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Video: Guatemala volcano forces 17 villages to be evacuated

Guatemala volcano: The Volcan del Fuego erupted six miles from Antigua, Guatemala. The volcano spewed rivers of bright orange lava down its flanks on Thursday, authorities ordered more than 33,000 people evacuated.

Volcano erupts in Guatemala, residents evacuate from 17 villages nearby.
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Villagers and farmers living at the foot of a Guatemalan volcano say they were awoken by a massive roar when the long-simmering Volcan del Fuego exploded with a series of eruptions that darkened the skies and covered the surrounding sugar cane fields with ash.

"It thundered and then it got dark as the ash began falling," said Miriam Curumaco, a 28-year-old homemaker from the village of Morelia who was evacuated along with 16 family members to a makeshift shelter at a nearby elementary school. "It sounded like a pressure cooker that wouldn't stop."

As the Volcan del Fuego, or Volcano of Fire, spewed rivers of bright orange lava down its flanks on Thursday, authorities ordered more than 33,000 people in 17 nearby communities evacuated. Many of those near the volcano are indigenous Kakchikeles people who live in relatively poor and isolated communities.

IN PICTURES: Pardon the eruption

Hundreds of cars, trucks and buses, blanketed with charcoal gray ash, drove away from the volcano, which sits about six miles (16 kilometers) southwest of the colonial city of Antigua, toward the Guatemala city. Thick clouds of ash reduced visibility to less than 10 feet in the area of sugar cane fields surrounding the volcano. The elderly, women and children were evacuated in old school buses and ambulances.

But many people refused to leave their homes, said Jose Martinez, who volunteered the bus he uses as a shuttle at the nearby Grupo Pantaleon sugar cane plantation to move people away from the volcano.

"Some people think that this will pass and others think their things won't be there when they go back," Martinez said.

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