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Nevado del Ruiz Eruption (1985)

  • By: Cher N. Peterson
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

On November, 11, 1985, a small volcanic eruption generated destructive lahars (mudflows), burying the town of Armero, killing over 23,000 persons, injuring 4,000, and rendering homeless another 7,000. Infrastructure was severely damaged. The lahars destroyed over 8,400 acres of agricultural land, destroying industrial plants, schools, roads, bridges, and houses. Damage was estimated in excess of $1 billion. The cost to the Colombian economy was $7.7 billion, one-fifth of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Located in the South American Andes, Nevado del Ruiz, a stratovolcano, stands at 16,200 feet. Known locally as “the sleeping lion,” the volcano had lain dormant for over 100 years prior to the 1985 eruption. Lahars have been generated by past eruptions, most notably in 1595, in which over 600 were killed; ...

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