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As Volcano Death Toll Rises in Guatemala, Operation Blessing & Israel Rush to Aid Survivors

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Rescue teams in Guatemala are searching through debris and ash, looking for any survivors of a fiery volcano as the death toll continues to rise.

At least 69 people are known dead and thousands have evacuated from their homes since those living near the volcano were not prepared for the eruption.

Officials in Guatemala say just 17 of the 69 people killed by the erupting volcano have been identified because the intense heat of volcanic debris has left most bodies unidentifiable.

A new video shows the fury of Volcano du Fuego. The images show lava shooting into the air as a glowing flow of molten lava floods down the mountain and a cloud of boiling ash lands on villages.

Urgent rescue missions are underway right now, but the hot terrain is making it difficult.

The death toll is expected to rise as residents of remote mountain villages were caught off guard, with little or no time to flee to safety.

"We were suffocating, couldn't breathe," said Maria Gomez.

Garcia Ixpata said 20 of her family members are missing. She begged the country's president for help.

"Mr. President, my family is missing," she said. "Send a helicopter to throw water over them because they are burning."

More than 3,000 people have been evacuated with more than 1,700 in shelters.

Operation Blessing is helping to bring relief to survivors by delivering thousands of hygiene kits, food and water.  

"We have some toiletries, like shampoo, toothpaste, toothtbrushes we are also including some cereral for the kids that are in shelters because we know they like them," said Geraldina Motta, director of Operation Blessing Guatemala. "We want them to feel comfortable."

A rescue team from Israel is also aiding with rescue efforts.

Motta commented, "It's incredible. We feel the love of the country of Israel and we love them too. It's amazing how God is using every situation on our behalf."

She explained there is a great need for clothing and mattresses because shelters are not equipped with them and she urged people to pray for Guatemala and its people.

"They should be praying for the people to relieve their suffering," said Motta. "There's a lot of people suffering right now because they lost their family, they lost their home, they lost everything they had, and there is a lot of people missing."

With tragedy all around, hope stays alive for miracles as at least 10 people have been pulled alive from the ash, including a baby found unharmed.

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About The Author

Charlene Aaron

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter, news anchor, co-host of The 700 Club, co-host of 700 Club Interactive, and co-host of The Prayerlink on the CBN News Channel. She covers various social issues, such as abortion, gender identity, race relations, and more. Before joining CBN News in 2003, she was a personal letter writer for Dr. Pat Robertson. Charlene attended Old Dominion University and Elizabeth City State University. She is an ordained minister and pastor’s wife. She lives in Smithfield, VA, with her husband.