Friday, January 15, 2010

Seventy Thousand in Forty Five Seconds

May 31, 1970. A powerful, 7.7 Richter earthquake in central Peru killed 70,000 people. Ten thousand were killed in the town of Huaraz, climbing center for Huascaran, the highest mountain in Peru at 22,000 feet, and the town was reduced to rubble. In the town of Yungay, a few miles north of Huaraz, all 18,000 inhabitants were killed when a huge piece of ice broke from the top of Huascaran and created a massive ice and mud slide traveling at 150 miles per hour. Only the 300 children away on a field trip to a circus survived.


The only surviving structure was the front of the church which stood on the central plaza, and still stands in the memorial park with the beautiful Huascaran in the distance.


Tragedy on an unimaginable scale. Sometimes Mother Nature isn't so motherly.

5 comments:

Pat said...

Wow, no kidding on the unimaginable tragedy thing. Do you remember this happening? I was oblivious - days away from graduating from high school and madly in love with Dave Silvieus. This was just weeks after Kent State. Talk about perspective.

Katharine said...

I wasn't aware until I went to Huaraz and Yungay. Those were pre-CNN days and were we engulfed in the Vietnam War. I walked Yungay in 2006 and I still have post-trauma feeling that wall of mud and ice covering the town. It took only two minutes from the mountain to the town, and it was all over.

mamadama said...

Very moving and I love the photos.

Joan Perry; Sidewalk Curator said...

Those pictures are so beautiful they hardly seem real.

Katharine said...

Thanks to mamadama and Joan for your comments on the photos. It was the late afternoon sun that gave the look.