The death toll from the eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano has risen to 69 as family members desperately searched for the missing in makeshift morgues and on streets blanketed with ash.

Guatemala's national disaster agency, CONRED, increased the death toll as more bodies were pulled from the debris around the village of El Rodeo, which was hard hit by the eruption.

Just a fraction of the victims have been identified.

Red Cross staff assisting people looking for their missing relatives at makeshift morgue

At a makeshift morgue in the city of Escuintla, about 30km from the explosion, distraught family members came to search for their relatives among the dead.

After evacuating the town of El Rodeo with his family, Francisco Quiche, 46, returned to search for his son and daughter-in-law. Peering through a hole in the wall of his son's home, Mr Quiche saw the boy's body.

He feared his daughter-in-law is dead as well.

"We had time to leave, thank God, but I am very sorry for the loss of my son and my daughter in law," he said through tears. "My son was just 22-years-old, the same as my daughter-in-law, who was expecting a baby."

The eruption of Fuego - Spanish for "fire" - on Sunday was the biggest in more than four decades, forcing the closure of Guatemala's main international airport and dumping ash on thousands of acres of coffee farms on the volcano's slopes.

By last night, the volcano's activity was lessening, and is expected to continue to diminish in the coming days, Eddy Sanchez, director of the seismological, volcanic and meteorological institute Insivumeh, told reporters.

The task of retrieving bodies yesterday was hindered by another eruption and an apparent landslide on the southern slopes of Fuego triggered fresh evacuations.

Later in the afternoon, heavy rains forced rescuers to abandon the search in El Rodeo until this morning, a spokesman for CONRED said.

Rains are expected to continue to complicate searches in the coming days, Mr Sanchez said.

Elsewhere, the process of mourning had begun.

Local television footage showed residents of villages walking through the streets, caskets hoisted on their shoulders.

Structures and trees at the base of the Fuego volcano were completely coated in brown and grey.

Armed soldiers donning blue masks kept watch at a badly affected neighbourhood that had been cordoned off, Reuters photos showed.

As late as yesterday afternoon, the volcano continued expelling a dark cloud of gases and rocks.

Fuego, one of several active volcanoes out of 34 in the Central American country, is near the colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site that has survived several volcanic eruptions. The latest activity is mostly on the far side of the volcano, facing the Pacific coast.

Volunteer firefighters carry coffins with the remains of two children to the morgue

The eruption on Sunday sent columns of ash and smoke 10km into the sky, dusting several regions with ash. More than 3,200 people have been evacuated, CONRED said.

CONRED shared a photo showing the flows of gas and mud sweeping down a mountainside and across a broad valley, engulfing a small village.

"The landscape on the volcano is totally changed, everything is totally destroyed," a government volcanologist said on local radio.

The agency also launched an online registry of missing people.

The eruption showered sand and ash on coffee plants across as much as 6,890 acres (2,788 hectares), including close to the volcano's cone, causing an estimated loss of 1% of Guatemala’s coffee production, the country’s national coffee association said.

In some areas, rain rinsed ash off the leaves, and the full extent of the damage was not yet clear, the association said