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Today in Latin American History: One of the Deadliest Volcano Eruption Occurred Killing 25,000 in Colombia


Today on November 13, 1985 Colombia’s Nevado del Ruiz, volcano erupted with the ensuing mud slide killing 25,000 people and 15,000 animals making it one of the deadliest volcano eruptions in history.

The volcano is part of the Andes Volcanic Chain located in the western region of South America. It is the highest (over 17,500 ft) of all of Colombia’s volcanos. Nevado del Ruiz is considered a “stratovolcano” that typically generate moderate eruptions resulting in deadly volcanic mudflows.

Nevado del Ruiz is covered with snow and ice (hence its name Nevado) that melts in record time with strong eruptions which is exactly what happened on November 13, 1985. Though mother nature did provide warning with minor eruptions happening the year prior to the fatal November 13th eruption. Town officials called off an earlier evacuation order when volcanic ash stopped falling – forgetting the history of the volcano’s lethal mudslides.

The melting snow and glacier combined with the molten lava traveled 31 miles per hour flowing into nearby rivers,and bursting a key dam on the River Lagunillas. So two hours after the 3:00 p.m. eruption, the townspeople of Amero were swept away to their death. This was the third time in 400 years that Nevado del Ruiz reared its ugly head but this time it was the deadliest.

The Nevado del Ruiz eruption cost the government over $1 billion dollars, Amero lost its distinction as one of the country’s largest producer of cotton and most tragically the town lost most of its people. The image of 13-year-old Omayra Sanchez remains seared in the memories of many – as she was entombed in volcanic matter for 3 days and died when all efforts to save her failed. The picture taken of her heroic calm as she faced death won the World Press Photo of the Year.

Today the town is practically a ghost town with survivors having rebuilt their lives in nearby villages.

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HSN Staff Writers

HSN staff writers are a group of enthusiastic and talented creative-types that generate great story lines and write about current events with a distinctively Latino voice always respecting the audience it writes for.

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