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Nevado del Huila update, 25 November 2008 25 November 2008

Posted by admin in Colombia, eruptions, natural hazards, Nevado del Huila.
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After the eruption, the aftermath: communities around Nevada del Huila volcano in south-west Colombia continue to suffer the destructive and disruptive effects of last week’s eruption. More lahars and landslides have brought destruction and further evacuations to the towns and villages near the volcano, many of which remain cut off from the outside world following the collapse of bridges and blocking of roads. Some people who had returned to their homes since the weekend have had to be evacuated again as new floods threaten their safety.

The town of Belalcázar is slowly returning to normality, reports El País, with the reconnection of power supplies and the provision of aerial cableways to carry food and aid supplies. An airlift is bringing aid to the area, and nearby towns are contributing supplies of food, clothing and medicines. More than 500 people have been evacuated from rural areas by the Colombian Air Force.

The Colombian Interior Ministry’s latest bulletin (issued yesterday) gives the casualty list as six dead and six missing. Four of the dead are children aged from one to twelve years. Some press reports using information from Sunday list the number of dead as ten, with as many as 150 missing or trapped. Many of the most badly affected communities on the upper slopes of the volcano have yet to be reached or contacted by the authorities (bad weather is preventing the use of helicopters, and roads have been destroyed), so final casualty figures are impossible to ascertain at this stage.

The death toll from this eruption is tragic and the destruction is extensive, but it could have been a great deal worse. In 1994 an earthquake at Nevado del Huila triggered landslides and a lahar that killed several hundred people. Lahars are among the most deadly of volcanic phenomena, as Colombia learned at Nevado del Ruiz in 1985 when a populated valley was devastated and 23,000 people died. At Nevado del Huila on this occasion the danger was fully understood, the volcano was efficiently monitored, the alarm was raised promptly, evacuations took place, and lives were undoubtedly saved as a result.

INGEOMINAS are maintaining an orange (level II, where level I ‘red’ is the highest) alert for Nevado del Huila.

For all our Nevado del Huila coverage: Nevado del Huila « The Volcanism Blog. As featured in Spiegel Online.

[Thanks to Boris Behncke for his correction (see comments) of the reference to the 1994 Nevado del Huila event, which was indeed an earthquake, not an eruption.]

Llegan ayudas y retorna la energía a BelalcázarEl País, 24 November 2008 (Spanish)
Alerta máxima por más avalanchas en Belalcázar, Colombia – COPE, 24 November 2008 (Spanish)
Las imágenes de la tragedia en BelalcázarSemana, 24 November 2008 (Spanish)
Volcano landslides kill 6 in Colombia – CNN, 23 November 2008
Colombia confirms 6 dead in Nevado del Huila Volcano eruptionLatin American Herald Tribune, 24 November 2008
Rio Páez evacuation continued amid fears of new mudslideColombia Reports, 24 November 2008

Global Volcanism Program: Nevado del Huila – summary information for Nevado del Huila (1501-05=)
Portal Corporativo de INGEOMINAS – main page for the Instituto Colombiano de Geología y Minería
INGEOMINAS Popayán – main page for the Observatorio Popayán, which monitors Nevado del Huila

The Volcanism Blog


1. boris behncke - 25 November 2008

In the last paragraph of this otherwise flawless update, reference is made to an “eruption” of Nevado de Huila in 1994, which killed hundreds of people.
To put this right, there was NO eruption in 1994, but a M 6.2 earthquake, which triggered landslides and lahars killing up to 1000 people. The USGS link that you cited in the paragraph says in its subtitle: “Earthquake on June 6, 1994, Triggers Landslides and Catastrophic Lahar Near Nevado del Huila Volcano, Colombia”. Nevado de Huila first awoke from its 550-year slumber in February 2007.

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