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The Yungay Earthquake
The earthquake made half of the mountain of Nevado Huascarán to LITERALLY fall off. The mass of glacial ice, about 800 meters across, created more than 50 million cubic meters of debris. It slid approximately 10 miles downhill at speeds between 125 MPH to 250 MPH. It completely BURIED the town of Yungay.
Here is a photo of the mountain today. You can clearly see the ENORMOUS piece that broke off and fell down into the valley below, wiping out an entire village. It was truly “half the mountain.” It was the worst catastrophic natural disaster ever recorded in the history of Peru.
The Peruvian government has forbidden excavation in the area where the old town of Yungay is buried, declaring it a national cemetery. The current town was rebuilt 1500 meters north of the destroyed city. The old town…. still buried.
This is a picture of a bus buried at the top of the debris pile.
Forty two years later.
The earthquake struck on a Sunday afternoon and lasted 45 seconds. It destabilized the northern wall of Mount Huascarán, causing the avalanche of rock, ice and snow. It took 3 minutes to reach the village. 25,000 people were buried. Only 92 people survived this tragedy, most of whom were in the cemetery and stadium at the time of the earthquake. These zones were the highest in town.