New evacuations near Guatemala volcano set off panic

People carry the coffins of seven victims to the cemetery in San Juan Alotenango Guatemala on Monday

People carry the coffins of seven victims to the cemetery in San Juan Alotenango Guatemala on Monday

At least 75 people are dead from the explosion in the Volcan de Fuego.

Meanwhile Guatemalan authorities confirmed the death toll from Sunday's eruption of the Volcano of Fire at 69, but said only 17 of the dead have been identified so far.

Volcanic ash blankets homes and trees near the Volcan de Fuego, or Volcano of Fire, where rescue workers gather in the El Rodeo hamlet of Escuintla, Guatemala.

The new evacuation order set off a panic even in areas that were not under it. Dozens of people could be seen walking down roadsides carrying children or a few belongings beside paralysed traffic in parts of Escuintla township south of the volcano.

Seven communities were evacuated as the volcano's activity increased, with rescue operations halted.

The eruption also created pyroclastic flows - fast-moving mixtures of very hot gas and volcanic matter.

Rescuers, police and journalists hurried to leave the area as a siren wailed and loudspeakers blared, "Evacuate".

The death toll stands at 70, but is expected to rise.

"We will continue until we find the last victim, though we do not know how many there are".

Two days after the eruption, the terrain was still too hot in many places for rescue crews to search for bodies or - increasingly unlikely with each passing day - survivors.

And a total of 192 people remain missing since the weekend eruptions, disaster relief agency chief Sergio Cabanas told reporters.

The peak had its most devastating eruption in more than four decades on Sunday, showering ash on a wide area and sending lava flows through nearby towns.

The 3,763-meter (12,346-foot) volcano erupted early Sunday, spewing out towering plumes of ash and a hail of fiery rock fragments with scalding mud.

Authorities said more than 1.7 million people had been affected by the disaster, including more than 3,000 ordered evacuated, many living in shelters in Escuintla, Sacatepequez and Chimaltenango since the eruption. "We are going to have to resort to other methods. and if possible take DNA samples to identify them".

A spokesman for Guatemala's firefighters, said that once it reaches 72 hours after the eruption, there will be little chance of finding anyone alive.