Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Taphophile Tragics


Yungay is in the mountains north of Huaraz, which is north of Lima in Peru. It's a place I knew nothing about but was a stop on a day trip out of Huaraz to visit a couple of lakes. Its an very moving place, and was extremely atmospheric on a grey, overcast day.


On May 31, 1970 a debris avalanche caused by the 1970 Ancash earthquake buried the whole town, killing 25,000 people. The earthquake triggered an unstable mass of glacial ice about 800 meters across at the top of Nevado Huascarán to fall. More than 50 million cubic meters of debris slid approximately 15 kilometers downhill at an angle of about 14 degrees. Speeds between 200 km/h to 400 km/h were achieved. Only 92 people survived, most of whom were in the cemetery and stadium at the time of the earthquake, as these zones were the highest in town.


 Many people now come to Yungay just to visit the Campo Santo just before the current Yungay if you come from Huaraz. This is the site of the old Yungay which has been left untouched after the disaster and is therefore a huge cemetery. You can see some leftovers of the old church and of the palm trees that used to be on the Plaza de Armas. Roses were planted at the site. 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.


For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.

13 comments:

Jim said...

Interesting.

Julie said...

*Gulp* ... wow. This would shut me up real pronto!

I am having trouble getting my geography right.

The landslip/ice slide can DOWN the valley or FROM the hill? It is astounding that anyone survived, but how ironic that those at the cemetery survived.

In your second image, there is a raised area in the distance with a Jesus statue (a la Rio) on a series of buildings that could be carved into the raised area. Is that more recent, or something that survived?

There appears to be the odd scattered stone or memorial. Were survivors/outsiders allowed to erect memorials to those who perished?

No wonder the area looks flat and wierdly vegetated.

What a tremendous cache of photographs you must have in your back pocket!

Great stuff!!

NixBlog said...

What a great series of photos and an amazing story! Would love to go to South America, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Ann said...

Julie, I'm afraid the answer to most of your questions is I don't know, or don't remember. These were taken in 2004. I think the track of the avalanche may have been down the hill in the background of the last photo. The land certainly looks scarred.

From memory the structure in the background of the second shot is a cemetery (columbarium?) but whether its the one that survived or one for those who died in the avalanche/earthquake I can't answer.

I found the information that I have by googling but I suspect that most info would be in Spanish.

Ann said...

Just had another read of my text. They aren't showing but but there are wikipedia links on the words "Ancash" and "Nevado Huascarán" which will take you to more information.

diane b said...

Wow that is one huge cemetery, the whole town. What a ghastly event. It is ironic that those visiting the cemetery were saved.

Peter said...

25000 people, how terrible.

PerthDailyPhoto said...

Ditto all of the above Ann, your posts every Tuesday for Julie's theme have been so very interesting!

Joan Elizabeth said...

Another ever so different and informative post.

Herding Cats said...

What a very sad but interesting post.

Dianne said...

Interesting post Ann with great photos

JM said...

A very interesting post indeed! I have visited Peru but never heard of this before. Thank you, Ann.

CaT said...

interesting!
it all looks so pretty and green... never been to this part of the world