Multimedia > Galleries

30 Years on: Colombia's Armero Tragedy Kills 25,000

The volcanic eruption in Colombia’s Tolima department, Nov. 13, 1985, was not only a tragedy due to the immense death toll — it left 25,000 people dead and is South America’s deadliest ever volcano eruption and the second most deadly eruption of the 20th century — but also because the Colombian government had received a warning in September that the area should be evacuated due to the Nevada del Ruiz’s recent activity.

The United States Geological Survey explains that, “A visiting UN geologist advised the installation of monitoring equipment and the creation of a hazard map and evacuation plans. But Colombian scientists lacked the expertise, government support, and equipment necessary to effectively monitor the volcano and relay information to public authorities.”

The eruption caused massive mudflows to quickly eat up nearby towns, with Armero being the worst hit. Residents did not hear the volcano as there was a storm over the area, too, which also restricted communication once the danger was understood. 

The USGS explains: “Nevado del Ruiz is a stratovolcano, akin to Washington's Mount St. Helens, topped by glaciers, rising 5,389 m (17,784 ft) above sea level. Such volcanoes are especially dangerous, because heat from the eruptions melts the ice to create lahars, or mudflows of volcanic debris. These are not slow, cumbersome mudflows, but fast, deep, and destructive walls of debris and water.

 

 

 

galeria14
A recent hazard map prepared for Nevado del Ruiz and vicinity, showing all of the major disaster zones affected by the eruption.
A recent hazard map prepared for Nevado del Ruiz and vicinity, showing all of the major disaster zones affected by the eruption. Photo:WikiCommons
The Nevado del Ruiz volcano emits vapor in September 1985, just two months before the tragedy.
The Nevado del Ruiz volcano emits vapor in September 1985, just two months before the tragedy. Photo:WikiCommons
Armero after the eruption.
Armero after the eruption. Photo:WikiCommons
A photo released by El Espectador shows Omayra Sanchez, 12, trapped in Armero, Colombia on Nov. 15, 1985. The young girl, who was conscious nearly to the end, bore her fate with quiet dignity as emergency workers struggled to free her legs from the mangled remains of her house. They eventually gave up, deciding the best they could do was comfort her. The photo shocked the world and won a World Press Photo of the Year award.
A photo released by El Espectador shows Omayra Sanchez, 12, trapped in Armero, Colombia on Nov. 15, 1985. The young girl, who was conscious nearly to the end, bore her fate with quiet dignity as emergency workers struggled to free her legs from the mangled remains of her house. They eventually gave up, deciding the best they could do was comfort her. The photo shocked the world and won a World Press Photo of the Year award. Photo:AFP Photo/Jairo Higuera
Lahars covered the town of Armero.
Lahars covered the town of Armero. Photo:WikiCommons
Armero is located, submerged, in the center of this photograph.
Armero is located, submerged, in the center of this photograph. Photo:WikiCommons
Only a few structures were left standing in Armero after the eruption.
Only a few structures were left standing in Armero after the eruption. Photo:WikiCommons
This street in ruins is not the result of the tragedy itself, but of 30 years of neglect.
This street in ruins is not the result of the tragedy itself, but of 30 years of neglect. Photo:El Espectador/Daniel Sanchez Gomez
The ruins of the San Lorenzo hospital.
The ruins of the San Lorenzo hospital. Photo:El Espectador/Daniel Sanchez Gomez
The remains of the cupola of the San Lorenzo Church.
The remains of the cupola of the San Lorenzo Church. Photo:El Espectador/Daniel Sanchez Gomez
The remains of the Banco de Colombia vault.
The remains of the Banco de Colombia vault. Photo:El Espectador/Daniel Sanchez Gomez
Tourists visit the houses in ruins in the town of Armero, Colombia, Nov. 5, 2015
Tourists visit the houses in ruins in the town of Armero, Colombia, Nov. 5, 2015 Photo:AFP
A commemorative cross with the name of a person who disappeared in the 1985 disaster is seen near the ruins of a house in the town of Armero, Colombia, Nov. 5, 2015
A commemorative cross with the name of a person who disappeared in the 1985 disaster is seen near the ruins of a house in the town of Armero, Colombia, Nov. 5, 2015 Photo:AFP
Webcamera image of Nevado del Ruiz taken April 3, 2014.
Webcamera image of Nevado del Ruiz taken April 3, 2014. Photo:Servicio Geologico Colombia
Published 13 November 2015
Galleries galerias telesur

Comment
0
Comments
Post with no comments.