Streets and houses were covered in the colonial town of Antigua.
The conical Volcan de Fuego reaches an altitude of 12,346 feet above sea level at its peak.
The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction in Guatemala said Sunday that fiery clouds of smoke were billowing from the Volcan del Fuego and that soot blanketed cars and houses in the nearby villages of San Pedro Yepocapa and Sangre de Cristo.
Firefighters in Guatemala say some people have been trapped by a deadly volcanic eruption but they have been forced to call off rescue efforts until morning over safety concerns.
Dozens of videos were popping up on social media and local TV, depicting the extent of devastation.
"We were at a party, celebrating the birth of a baby, when one of the neighbors shouted at us to come out and see the lava that was coming", Hilda Lopez recalled.
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President Jimmy Morales said he had convened his ministers and was considering declaring a state of emergency in the departments of Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepequez. Police officers, soldiers, and other emergency workers are attempting to rescue people.
Authorities fear the death toll could rise further because many people are unaccounted for. The volcanic activity increased at around 3:30 p.m., with rocks, ash, sand and lava being launched into the air, according to el Periodico.
Guatemala City's worldwide airport reopened Monday after it was closed by falling ash from the eruption.
Sergio Cabañas, head of the country's National Disaster Management Agency (Conred), said the town had been "buried".
Another 20 people have been injured, and more than 2,000 evacuated near the volcano and several cities, including Antigua.
Israel, an ally of Guatemala, said it delivered food, blankets and medicine to help people affected by the eruption. The Volcano of Fire has erupted on and off for centuries, according to the USGS, and this is its second eruption this year.
Aviation authorities closed Guatemala City's worldwide airport because of the danger posed to planes.
"Currently the volcano continues to erupt and there exists a high potential for (pyroclastic) avalanches of debris", the disaster agency said late on Sunday via Twitter, quoting Sanchez, the director of the seismology and volcanology institute.
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