EL RODEO, Guatemala — Fighting back tears, José Alberto Miche, 18, said Sunday began as a day like any other.
The teenager said the Fuego volcano, less than a mile from his hometown, El Rodeo, was always active, but would always calm down. The last major eruption was in 1974.
But this Sunday was different.
As of Wednesday, 75 people have been killed since the eruption, officials said. However, the death toll is expected to rise further.
“We don’t expect to find any survivors,” one firefighter told NBC News Tuesday as he headed up the volcano.
Miche said he remembers getting ready for work and walking with his mother to the road outside El Rodeo, one of the hardest-hit villages since Sunday's eruption."I felt like something bad was going to happen. I said goodbye,” he said Tuesday, tears streaming down his face.
“That was the last time I saw her.”
Miche lost nine members of his family in the eruption, including both parents. His younger sister also survived.
The quick-moving pyroclastic flow — a mix of hot lava, pumice, ash and volcanic gas moving down volcanic slopes at speeds as high as 430 mph — surprised entire villages.Another rescue worker, Juan José Chávez, said, “We’ve found dead children and entire families hugging each other who tried to take shelter in their homes.”