In November 1985 the Nevado del Ruiz stratovolcano in Tolima, Colombia erupted. The eruption caused the mountain’s glaciers to melt, sending four enormous lahars (volcanically induced mudslides, landslides, and debris flows) down its slopes at 50 kilometres per hour (30 miles per hour). The lahars picked up speed in gullies and coursed into the six major rivers at the base of the volcano.
The relief efforts were hampered by fallen bridges and impassable roads and by the composition of the mud, which made it nearly impossible to move through without becoming stuck. By the time relief workers reached Armero twelve hours after the eruption, many of the victims with serious injuries were dead. The relief workers were horrified by the landscape of fallen trees, disfigured human bodies, and piles of debris from entire houses. This was the second-deadliest volcanic disaster of the 20th century, surpassed only by the 1902 eruption of Mount Pelée, and is the fourth-deadliest volcanic event recorded since 1500 AD.
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