CNN  — 

Both eruptions swallowed homes and reminded everyone how ferocious nature can be.

But there are huge differences between Guatemala’s Fuego volcano eruption, which has killed 62 people since Sunday, and Hawaii’s recent Kilauea eruption, which hasn’t killed anyone but keeps slowly wreaking havoc one month later.

Kilauea's volcanic eruption, left, and Guatemala's Fuego eruption

Here’s why these eruptions are so different – and why they have drastically different death tolls:

Lava vs. pyroclastic flow

Kilauea’s primary mode of destruction is lava, but Fuego has unleashed pyroclastic flow – a nasty mix of ash, rock and volcanic gases that can be much more dangerous than lava.

In Guatemala, pyroclastic flow from Sunday’s eruption topped 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1,000 degrees Celsius), CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera said.

“This eruption at Fuego was explosive, sending hot debris down the steep sides of the volcano to make the pyroclastic flows,” said Erik W. Klemetti, associate professor of geosciences at Denison University.

He said pyroclastic flows can tumble down a volcano at hundreds of kilometers per hour – way faster than what people and even cars could outrun.

In pictures: Guatemala volcano erupts

By contrast, Kilauea produces lava (or sticky, molten rock) that typically creeps along at maybe hundreds of meters per hour – not nearly as fast as devastating pyroclastic flow.

Different communities

Kilauea is within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Lava has destroyed dozens of homes and other structures in communities outside the park boundaries.

But the Fuego volcano erupted near densely populated areas.

“Villages are right on the foothills of the mountain,” Cabrera said. “So they had no time (to escape).”

That meant unsuspecting villagers – such as those in the community of El Rodeo – were suddenly overwhelmed by ash, lava fragments and gases speeding toward them at 435 mph (700 kph).

Different long-term effects

In both the Kilauea and Fuego areas, “the land will be unusable for years,” Klemetti said.

PAHOA, HI - MAY 5: In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, lava errupts from a new fissure from Luana Street after the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on May 5, 2018 in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii. The governor of Hawaii has declared a local state of emergency near the Mount Kilauea volcano after it erupted following a 5.0-magnitude earthquake, forcing the evacuation of nearly 1,700 residents. (Photo by U.S. Geological Survey via Getty Images)
Lava spills through Hawaii neighborhood
01:12 - Source: CNN

But Guatemala faces a special danger that Hawaii doesn’t.

“The bigger issue with pyroclastic flows is they can be turned into volcanic mudflows (lahars) when the loose debris mixes with rain/river waters,” he said. “That is the new danger at Fuego right now.”

CNN’s Judson Jones contributed to this report.