Armero tragedy

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Post  tungduong_9102 on Sat 13 Nov 2010 - 4:29

The Armero tragedy (Spanish: Tragedia de Armero) was the major consequence of the November 13, 1985 eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Tolima, Colombia. After 69 years of dormancy, the eruption caught nearby towns unaware, even though the government had received warnings to evacuate the area from multiple volcanological organizations when volcanic activity had been detected in September 1985.[1]

As pyroclastic flows erupted from the volcano's crater, they melted the mountain's glaciers, sending four enormous lahars (volcanically induced mudslides, landslides, and debris flows) down its slopes at 60 kilometers (37 mi) per hour. The lahars picked up speed in gullies and coursed into the six major rivers at the base of the volcano; they engulfed the town of Armero, killing more than 20,000 of its almost 29,000 inhabitants.[2] Casualties in other towns, particularly Chinchiná, brought the overall death toll to 23,000. Footage and photographs of Omayra Sánchez, a young victim of the tragedy, were published around the world. Other photographs of the lahars and the impact of the disaster captured attention worldwide and led to controversy over the degree to which the Colombian government was responsible for the disaster. One person at a mass funeral in Ibague said, "The volcano didn't kill 22,000 people. The government killed them."

The relief efforts were hindered by the composition of the mud, which made it nearly impossible to move through without becoming stuck. By the time relief workers reached Armero twelve hours after the eruption, many of the victims with serious injuries were dead. The relief workers were horrified by the landscape of fallen trees, disfigured human bodies, and piles of debris from entire houses. This was the second-deadliest volcanic disaster of the 20th century, surpassed only by the 1902 eruption of Mount Pelée, and is the fourth-deadliest volcanic event recorded since 1500 AD. The event was a foreseeable catastrophe exacerbated by unawareness of the volcano's destructive history; geologists and other experts had warned authorities and media outlets about the danger over the weeks and days leading up to the eruption. Hazard maps for the vicinity were prepared, but poorly distributed. On the day of the eruption, several evacuation attempts were made, but a severe storm restricted communications. Many victims stayed in their houses as they had been instructed, believing that the eruption had ended. The noise from the storm may have prevented many from hearing the sounds from Ruiz until it was too late.

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