A geyser-like blast of boiling water and hot rocks leveled homes and killed at least 13 people in a western Salvadoran village Saturday.

The 3 a.m. eruption left a huge crater and shot water, mud and stones up to 350 feet around this small farm community 60 miles west of San Salvador, the capital. At least seven homes were destroyed and 20 others hospitalized."First it felt like an earthquake, followed by a strong wind," said Miguel Antonio Melgar, 56. "I ran outside. There was a lot of smoke and rocks."

"Rocks and boiling water were falling all over the place," said Army Maj. Jose Rodriguez, from the nearby military base at Ahuachapan.

El Salvador sits on a geological fault and is frequently shaken by earthquakes and volcanic activity. The Massachusetts-sized nation with a population of 5 million is dotted with thermal wells, some harnessed to generate electricity.

Rodriguez said the site that exploded was not being used for power, but often attracted tourists to El Barro, Spanish for "the mud." Sometimes the murky well puffed steam.