Little Girl, Trapped In Natural Disaster (1985)
Omayra Sanchez was a 13 year old girl photographed while emergency disaster rescue workers and volunteers were waiting on equipment and supplies needed to free her from being trapped in water up to her neck after a volcano in her area erupted.
On November 13, 1985, in Armero, Colombia, the Nevado del Ruiz volcano (also known as "El Mesa de Herveo" or "Kumanday") erupted and also caused mudflows (lahars) and the flow of various debris and water in the area.
Omayra Sanchez got trapped in the lahars. She survived about 60 hours and succumbed to hypothermia and gangrene on her third evening of confinement - before rescue workers and volunteers had the necessary equipment to remove her from the water and debris she was trapped in.
Some equipment arrived a couple of hours before Omayra died, however, its arrival wasn't soon enough to get her removed from the water in time.
Omayra's father also died as a result of the volcanic explosion and aftermath, but her mother, Maria Aleida, and her brother, Alvaro Enrique survived.
The city of Armero was destroyed as a result of the volcanic eruption and no further residents there are in danger of harm from the still active Nevado del Ruiz volcano. There are no other cities close to the volcano.
Succumbed to Gangrene and Hypothermia, R.I.P. Omayra Sanchez
Photo used for awareness campaigns
A photo of Omayra was used in the 80's and since the time of the volcanic eruption, for awareness campaigns to make people think more about government and community responsibilities during instances of natural disaster.
Colombian authorities have been heavily criticized for lack of speed and resources with which to deal with natural disasters in such cases as the Nevado del Ruiz volcano disaster. Many people feel that if authorities had acted to send out equipment, more emergency workers and had made an authorized public plea for more volunteers to aid the Nevado del Ruiz volcano disaster, lives like Omayra Sanchez's could have been saved.
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