Guatemala City, June 4: At least 25 people were killed, 20 others injured and some 1.7 million residents have been affected by the eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano, the most violent in recent years, according to government authorities.

According to reports, video footage showed a black cloud of ash rising from just beyond the golf club. The lava river was running on the other side of the volcano.

The huge plumes of smoke that could be seen from various parts of the country and the ash that fell in four of Guatemala’s departments caused alarm among residents.  Hundreds of rescue workers, including firefighters, police, and soldiers worked to recover bodies from the still-smoking lava.

Flows of lava have reportedly struck at least one village, causing deaths and injuries. People have been evacuated from several areas and the capital’s La Aurora airport has closed.

President Jimmy Morales said a national emergency response was under way. The head of the National Disaster Prevention Authority Sergio Cabañas told a local radio station that a river of lava had changed course towards a small town.

“People have been injured, burned and killed. Evacuations and searches are underway,” he said.

Cabañas later said the dead included a member of his agency’s staff.

A total of about a million people have been affected by the eruption, the Guatemalan government said. Officials have advised citizens to wear masks due to falling ash, which has been raining down in four of Guatemala’s administrative regions.

(With agency inputs)