Although they are hundreds of miles away, many Topekans are determined to help victims of the Fuego Volcano in Guatemala.
At least 109 people were killed by a massive eruption on Sunday that buried villagers in scalding ash, gas, with some dying later in hospital from their burns.
"We make recommendations, and it's the residents who decide whether to evacuate or not".
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"If the search is not going to be continued [authorities] should send us help because even if it's just bones, we want our families back", said Eufemia Garcia, a 47-year-old woman who told Reuters nearly 50 members of her extended family are still missing.
"My family is buried". The disaster agency says volcanologists were not explicit enough that the situation was dire.
Garcia's village of San Miguel Los Lotes was completely engulfed by the eruption and the efforts to search bodies buried under the debris has been suspended until the volcano stabilizes but official warning have not stopped Garcia, who grabs a pickaxe or a shovel and enters the danger zone with new found defiance to find her family members. Locals are increasingly frustrated by the response of authorities.More news: Woman caught caging kids in pet kennels
In two of the canyons where flows have accumulated, columns of ash rose as high as 6,000 metres, according to a Friday morning statement from Guatemala's volcanic institute.
"The [flows] carry hot vapor, including fine particles similar to cement. and tree trunks dragged out by the current", the institute said.
"I'm not going to give up until I have a part of my family and am able to give them a Christian burial", Garcia said, her features drawn with fatigue and grief but her voice unfaltering.More news: P.E.I. premier supports Trudeau trade retaliation
With no family left, Garcia has no idea where she will live now but her only goal right now is to find her missing family.
About 200 people are still missing.
"We're extremely grateful for everything and all of the support that we've received", said Viri Valdez, a volunteer who has family in Guatemala.More news: Kim summit highlights: European Union hails talks as 'crucial and necessary step'