Omayra Sánchez Biography
(Victim of Nevado del Ruiz Volcano)
Birthday: August 29, 1972 (Virgo)
Born In: Armero
Omayra Sánchez Garzón was a Colombian girl who was one of the victims of the 1985 eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. She grew up in an impoverished family in the neighbourhood of Santander, Armero. Following the eruption, volcanic debris melded with ice to create huge lahars that flowed down into the river valleys below the mountain. About 23,000 people subsequently died and 14 villages, including Armero, were completely decimated. After one of the lahars destroyed her home, Omayra was caught under the debris. For the ensuing three days, she was trapped in water and could not be moved despite several attempts by the relief workers. Media was present at the scene and documented her ordeal as her calmness gradually descended into agony. She died after struggling for sixty hours. Her death underscored the severe incompetence of her country’s disaster management cycle. In contrast, Omayra’s courage during her plight and the efforts of the relief workers were highly praised. A photograph of her, shot by photojournalist Frank Fournier in the hours prior to her death, earned Fournier the 1985 World Press Photo of the Year award.