On November 13, 1985, a devastating tragedy occurred in the small town of Armero, Colombia. A mudslide caused by the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano buried the entire town under several feet of mud and debris. One of the victims was a young girl named Omayra Sanchez. Her tragic story made headlines around the world and sparked outrage over the slow response time of rescue workers. In this blog post, we will explore who Omayra Sanchez was, what happened to her, and why she became such an iconic symbol of tragedy.
Who is Omayra Sanchez?
Omayra Sanchez was a 13-year-old girl who tragically lost her life in the Armero mudslide. She was trapped under the debris for three days before rescue workers were finally able to free her. Unfortunately, she had sustained serious injuries and died shortly after being pulled from the rubble. Her story shocked the world and became a symbol of the devastating effects of natural disasters.
What Happened To Her?
The Nevado del Ruiz volcano erupted on November 13, 1985, causing a massive mudslide that buried the town of Armero under several feet of mud and debris. Omayra Sanchez was one of the victims who were trapped as a result of the landslide. She remained trapped for three days before rescue workers were finally able to free her. Unfortunately, she had sustained serious injuries and died shortly after being pulled from the rubble.
How Was She Trapped?
The mudslide that buried Armero was caused by the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. The volcanic ash and debris flowed down the mountain and into the town, engulfing everything in its path. Omayra Sanchez was one of the many people who were trapped as a result of this natural disaster.
She wound up trapped under the rubble of her home, along with the bodies of her parents and siblings. It took rescue workers three days to free her from the debris, but it was already too late. Besides being compressed by the rubble of her home, she was also exposed to the cold weather and the contaminated water which may have led to a number of other issues besides the initial injuries that she suffered during the mudslide.
Why Couldn’t They Rescue Her?
Part of the reason that rescue workers were unable to reach Omayra is due to the severity of the disaster. Armero was caught completely off guard and much of the small town was completely destroyed by the combination of mudslides and volcanic debris.
It is speculated that rescue workers could not reach her because they were not aware of her location. Omayra was trapped under the rubble for three days, and it is possible that she would have been rescued if rescue workers had arrived sooner..
Rescue workers did not reach Omayra Sanchez until three days after she was first trapped under the rubble. By that time, it was too late; she had already sustained serious injuries and died shortly after being pulled from the debris. The slow response time of the rescue workers was heavily criticized and became a symbol of the tragedy itself.
Why Did Omayra Sanchez’s Eyes Turn Black?
One of the most shocking aspects of Omayra Sanchez’s story is that her eyes turned black soon after she became trapped beneath the debris. This phenomenon is often referred to as “dark eye syndrome” and is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. In Omayra’s case, it served to deepen the tragedy surrounding her death
It is unclear why Omayra Sanchez’s eyes turned black shortly before she died. Some reports suggest that it may have been due to the exposure to the volcanic ash, while others claim that she may have contracted sepsis as a result of her injuries. Other reports claim that while she was trapped, blood vessels in her eyes burst and caused her eyes to permanently become discolored that way.
The extreme pressure she was under while trapped in combination with the volcanic ash and other debris may have been the cause of her black eyes.
Why Did Her Hands Turn White?
Another strange and unsettling detail of Omayra Sanchez’s story is that her hands turned white soon after she became trapped. This phenomenon, which is known as “white finger syndrome”, is caused by a lack of blood circulation to the extremities. In Omayra’s case, it served as a stark reminder of the serious injuries she had sustained
It is unclear why Omayra Sanchez’s hands turned white shortly before she died. Some reports suggest that it may have been due to the exposure to the volcanic ash, while others claim that she may have contracted sepsis as a result of her injuries. Other reports claim that while she was trapped, blood vessels in her fingers burst and caused her fingers to become permanently discolored.
The extreme pressure she was under while trapped in combination with the volcanic ash and other debris may have been the cause of her white hands.
What Were Her Last Words?
One of the most heartbreaking aspects of Omayra Sanchez’s story are her final words, which were captured on video just before she died. In a moment of clarity and lucidity, she uttered these poignant words: “Ay Dios mio, ayudame” (My God, help me).
It is tragic that Omayra Sanchez’s final words were ones of desperation and pleading for help. She had been trapped beneath the rubble for three days and had sustained serious injuries;
She also reportedly was heard saying “I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die.” She repeated this phrase several times before she ultimately passed away.
One recording has her saying the following in a conversation with her mother shortly before her passing: "I would like to say a few words. Can I? Mom, if you hear me…I hope so. Pray for me to be able to walk again, and that these people can help me… Mommy, I love you,
Dad, siblings … Goodbye, Mom. "
How Did Omayra Sanchez Die? What Did She Die Of?
It is unclear exactly how Omayra Sanchez died. However, it is believed that she succumbed to her injuries shortly after being pulled from the rubble. It is believed that she may have died of sepsis as a result of her injuries, or from exposure to the volcanic ash and debris.
Omayra Sanchez is one of dozens of victims but her unique struggle captured the world’s attention.
Was Omayra Sanchez’s Body Ever Recovered?
There have been numerous recovery efforts since the disaster by both the military and civilians, but Omayra Sanchez’s body has never been found. It is possible that her body was completely incinerated by the pyroclastic flow or that she was buried beneath so much rubble that she could not be recovered.
Who Took the Photo of Omayra Sanchez?
The iconic photograph of Omayra Sanchez taken shortly before she died was captured by journalist Frank Fournier. He had gone to cover the story of the eruption and subsequent tragedy for Paris-Match magazine, and it is likely that he did not expect to capture such a powerful image of human suffering. The photograph has since been published in magazines and newspapers all over the world, and has become a symbol of the human cost of natural disasters.