ESCUINTLA, Guatemala — Lilian Hernandez wept as she spoke the names of aunts, uncles, cousins, her grandmother and two great-grandchildren – 36 family members in all – missing and presumed dead in the explosion of Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire.

“My cousins Ingrid, Yomira, Paola, Jennifer, Michael, Andrea and Silvia, who was just 2-years-old,” the distraught woman said – a litany that brought into sharp relief the scope of a disaster for which the final death toll is far from clear.

What was once a collection of verdant canyons, hillsides and farms resembled a moonscape of ash, rock and debris on Tuesday in the aftermath of the fast-moving avalanche of super-heated muck that roared into the tightly knit villages on the mountain’s flanks, devastating entire families.

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.

By afternoon a new column of smoke was rising from the mountain and Guatemala’s disaster agency said volcanic material was descending its south side, prompting an evacuation order and the closure of a nearby national highway. Rescuers, police and journalists hurried to leave the area as a siren wailed and loudspeakers blared, “Evacuate!”

On Sunday, when the volcano exploded in a massive cloud of ash and molten rock, Hernandez said her brother and sister ran to check on their 70-year-old grandmother on the family’s plot of land in the village of San Miguel Los Lotes.

“She said that it was God’s will, she was not going to flee,” Hernandez said. “She was unable to walk. It was hard for her to get around.”

Her brother and sister made it to safety, but their grandmother has not been seen again.

Hernandez and her husband, Francisco Ortiz, survived because they moved out of Los Lotes just two months ago to begin a new life on a small plot of land.

The couple has been staying at a Mormon church in the nearby city of Escuintla and going to a morgue there to await news. So far only the body of one relative, her 28-year-old cousin, Cesar Gudiel Escalante, has been recovered and identified.

“The people ended up buried in nearly 3 meters of lava,” Ortiz said. “Nobody is left there.”

Other families experienced similar tragedies.

As President Jimmy Morales toured the area and met with survivors on Monday, a woman begged him to help her loved ones in Los Lotes.

“Mr. President, my family is missing. Send a helicopter to throw water over them because they are burning,” she said. “I have three children, a grandchild, and all my brothers, my mother, all my family are there. … More than 20 have disappeared.”

The fast-moving flows with temperatures as high as 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit and hot ash and volcanic gases that can cause rapid asphyxiation caught many off guard.

On Tuesday, it was clear that the official death toll of at least 70 was sure to climb and fears spread that anyone still stuck in the buried houses was dead and would remain entombed there.

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