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Armero: A Moment of Reflection
The Armero Tragedy: A Moment of Reflection
The Armero Tragedy: Travelling around Colombia, you’ll come across many stories and events that have defined the country. One of these events that remains in the collective memory is in Armero.
The Devastating Eruption:
The tragedy occurred on November 13th, 1985, when the Nevado del Ruiz volcano erupted after being dormant for over a century. The eruption caused an enormous avalanche of volcanic ash, rocks, and mud known as a lahar, which swept through the town of Armero in Tolima department, destroying everything in its path.
The devastation was massive, with an estimated death toll of over 23,000 people. The tragedy also left thousands of families homeless and displaced, causing immeasurable pain to the survivors and their loved ones.
Visit The Armero Tragedy:
Armero is in Tolima, and you are able to visit the site. Local tour guides will tell you many stories of the events at that time. It’s a surreal scene, with the ruins of the town still visible and the surrounding landscape now transformed into lush farmlands.
Many factors contributed to the high death toll, including poor communication between authorities and communities, lack of evacuation plans, and inadequate warning systems. The tragedy also exposed deeper issues such as poverty and political corruption that hindered proper disaster response and prevention efforts.
Memorial and Remembrance of the Armero Tragedy:
Visitors can pay their respects at the memorial site dedicated to the victims and learn more about the events leading up to and following the disaster. They have left Armero pretty much as it was on the day of the disaster, with partially submerged houses, parts of the church, and an old Bancolombia building, all of which have stories to tell.
Omayra Sánchez, a Symbol of Resilience
In the midst of devastation, a young girl named Omayra Sánchez’s story captured the world’s attention. Trapped for three agonizing days in mud and debris, she fought bravely until succumbing to her injuries. Her image stands as a powerful reminder – a rallying cry for better disaster preparedness.
Omayra’s Shrine: Where Miracles are said to Happen.
Visiting the shrine dedicated to Omayra, many recount extraordinary experiences and even speak of miracles. Some suggest she should be proclaimed a saint. It’s an incredibly powerful and moving encounter, not to be missed.
The Unscathed Cemetery: Nature’s Enigmatic Act
Among the various tragedies that unfolded in Amero, one peculiar twist of fate baffles the mind. Despite the town’s destruction and the loss of over 70% of its population, the cemetery emerged untouched. Although it has fallen into disrepair, visitors can still wander through its grounds. Acknowledged as Holy Land by Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II acknowledged the disaster’s significance and declared the site of Armero as “holy land”. Every visitor attests to the hallowedness that permeates the entire experience.
The Armero Tragedy: A Moving Experience
For those in the area, a visit to Armero is an emotional journey unlike any other.