The recovery efforts were interrupted Tuesday as a fiery mix of hot lava blocks, ash and volcanic gas coursed down the south side of the volcano.
Rescuers, police officers and journalists hurried to leave the area, The Associated Press reported.
Above it all, the volcano was shrouded in smoke and clouds.
The death toll stood at 70 on Tuesday, but officials feared that it could grow much higher. Many of the recovered bodies were too badly burned to be identified.
Some asked whether the authorities had moved quickly enough to order evacuations, and whether volcano victims in villages around the mountain had been neglected. La Reunión Golf Course and Residences, a luxury resort on the volcano’s slopes, was destroyed. But unlike the villages, the resort was evacuated in time.
Karin Slowing, a former planning and budget secretary for the Guatemalan government, said an independent study would be needed to determine why the evacuation did not occur earlier.
One problem is that government corruption over the past decade has led to a deterioration of institutions.