November 16, 1985
Armero, Tolima, Colombia
Omayra Sánchez (15) dies of gangrene and/or hypothermia 60 hours after being buried by a lahar (a mudslide of volcanic ash, water, and debris)
Omayra and her family had been awake at the time the lahar, concerned about the eruption and ashfall. When the lahar hit the home, Omayra became pinned by pieces of the house and, it was later discovered, her aunt’s arms were wrapped tightly around Omayra’s legs and feet. Because of the positioning of Omayra’s legs trapped beneath the concrete, it was determined she would need to have her legs amputated to free her, but as she was submerged, amputation was not feasible.
Omayra’s calm and dignified demeanor impressed journalist and rescue workers who comforted her and brought her sweets during the 60 hours she was trapped before she died of either gangrene, hypothermia, or a combination of the two. The photo attached was taken shortly before her death, showcasing the extreme transformation her body went through including her eyes reddening, her hands whitening, and her face swelling.