Ash rained down on the car that Brett Young was in; "dark, watery, like muddy water" is how he described it.
The young man originally from Souris and his girlfriend, Mackenzie Salmon, hiked down a volcano in Guatemala on Sunday two hours before the deadly eruption of the neighbouring Fuego volcano.
Days later, Young still couldn’t believe what happened.
On Wednesday, emergency crews pulled more bodies from what remained of villages devastated by the eruption, but time was quickly running out to find survivors as the confirmed death toll rose to 99 with nearly 200 still missing.
More than 60 people were killed and hundreds injured after the eruption.
"It’s pretty crazy to think we were just there an hour before," Young said. "They said that if we had still been there, that all the ash and the gases would have been super harmful to our lungs."
Young and Salmon trekked up the neighbouring volcano the day before, and they camped near the active volcano.
"You could see it spewing lava, like all night," Young said.
They talked to someone in the hostel they were staying at who said he’d done the trek a couple of days before. Then, lava was spewing out every 10 minutes or so, according to the man, but when Young hiked it, it was constant, and spewing quite high "at least a few hundred meters out the top," he said.
They had just left the volcano a couple of hours before, and looking back that could have been the difference between life and death for Young and his girlfriend.
They were driving away when the sky got dark and it became hard to see.
"It was just raining down ash, all the vehicles were just covered in black," he said. "That’s when we knew something was pretty wrong."
Young, who attended Brandon University, is just glad that they left when they did.
"I think everyone is kind of in shock," he said.
Thousands of people displaced by the eruption have sought refuge in shelters, many of them of with dead or missing loved ones and facing an uncertain future, unable to return to homes destroyed by the volcano.
Firefighters said the chance of finding anyone alive amid the still-steaming terrain was practically nonexistent 72 hours after Sunday’s volcanic explosion. Thick grey ash covering the stricken region was hardened by rainfall, making it even more difficult to dig through the mud, rocks and debris that reached to the rooftops of homes.
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from The Associated Press
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