The most violent eruption of Guatemala's Fuego volcano in over four decades took over 110 lives while the toxic ash and debris buried over 200 individuals.
Volcan de Fuego, which means “volcano of fire” in English, exploded in the early morning of June 3, just 27 miles from Guatemala City. The authorities reacted slowly to the signs of the impending eruption that reportedly turned San Miguel Los Lotes, a village in the Escuintla Department of Guatemala, into a cemetery.
The ripples of catastrophe spread so quickly the villagers had absolutely no time to save any of their belongings as they tried to escape the fire that threatened to engulf them.
"My family was having lunch, they left the plates of food and stopped eating and fled," said Pedro Gomez, a 45-year-old welder. "They took nothing but their clothes on their backs."
The grim aftermath of the eruption revealed harrowing scenes showing abandoned lunches, broken cycles, toys covered in ashes, parched pages of books and many such forgotten articles which once belonged to someone but now laid unclaimed on the ground.
Eerie scenes that followed also showed how some unfortunate animals failed to escape the ruthless volcanic eruption.
The tragedy was particularly distressful for people who might have survived the rivers of lava and clouds of dust but were left with the dire task of finding their loved ones, who could either be stuck under the rubble, waiting to be rescued or could be very much dead.
Some of the survivors even took up the risky work of finding their lost family members on themselves.
For instance, Eufemia Garcia whose family was one of the hardest hit families from the volcanic eruption, consuming 50 of her loved ones, including her children and grandson, took the rudimentary tools, entered the danger zone with new found defiance to find her family members, but to no avail.
Angelica Alvarez was another woman who took around pictures of her husband and two daughters in hope rescue workers would be able to find them.
The heartbreaking photos show where once there was life, was now covered with thick layers of sepia-colored volcanic ash and had a lingering smell of sulfur. The traces of inhabitants–clothes hung outside to dry, a toothbrush left out, refrigerator, radio–all coated with ash, gave the place the eerie feeling of a ghost ship.
Rescuers searched for the bodies with the distraught family members, who dug down into the buildings and rubbles just to find the remains of humans left behind while the rest of them drifted several feet under the ground.
Banner Image Credits: REUTERS/Luis Echeverria