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Tragic final words of girl who died after getting trapped in volcanic mudflow for 60 hours

Tragic final words of girl who died after getting trapped in volcanic mudflow for 60 hours

The image of Omayra Sánchez Garzón - shoulder deep in water with tired, black eyes - gives a glimpse of her horrific 60 hours of suffering.

Warning: This article contains content some readers may find upsetting

After 60 long hours of suffering, Omayra Sánchez Garzón uttered her heartbreaking final words before she gave up her doomed fight for survival.

The last moments of the 13-year-old's life were uniquely recorded by a crowd of journalists who helplessly watched on as she lay trapped underneath the roof of her own home - pinned underwater by concrete and debris.

The haunting image of the youngster - shoulder deep in water with tired, black eyes - has become synonymous with the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Armero, Colombia nearly four decades ago.

Omayra was horrifically caught up in the aftermath, as a volatile mixture of volcanic lava and ice, known as lahar, gushed into the river valleys below and towards the nearby villages.

The teenager and around 25,000 others perished in the disaster, which completely obliterated 14 communities.

Some say she faced a fate worse than death, as Omayra lay trapped underneath the remnants of her family home for three whole days.

The deadly landslide had smashed into the property - submerging the place and everyone inside it - but the schoolgirl had miraculously managed to survive.

Omayra Sánchez Garzón spent 60 agonising hours buried underneath debris.
Wikimedia Commons

Rescuers heard her cries and found her chest-deep in a muddy pool of water, while her body was trapped between sunken pieces of debris, including a heavy brick door.

Below the surface, Omayra's dead aunt's hands were still clutching onto her feet.

Divers could not find a way to free her from the concrete without completely shattering her legs, but they had no resources to give her life-saving care if they amputated them.

It was decided that the kindest thing to do was to make her comfortable after multiple attempts to free her had failed. A tyre was placed around her to keep her afloat.

Journalists, photographers, TV crews, Red Cross workers and emergency officials had gathered around her, hoping for an eleventh hour rescue. But they ended up being her only source of solace during the agonising days which followed.

Incredibly, Omayra remained calm throughout her ordeal except a few brief periods of panic and was happy to chat to the crowd.

Onlookers sang with her, gave her sweet food and soda in the hopes of providing some comfort.

By her third night, Omayra had begun hallucinating - telling people she could not be late to school again, as she had a maths exam to sit.

Her eyes had now become so bloodshot that they appeared black, while her hands had whitened and her face had swelled.

Volcanic lava mixed with ice gushed towards villages after the Nevado del Ruiz volcano erupted.
Getty Stock Image

But despite her agony, she asked the people who had stayed with her to leave so that they could rest.

Before she closed her eyes for a final time, the tragic teen uttered her heartbreaking last words for the world to listen to.

Clinging onto a piece of debris above her head, she calmly looked towards the camera and said: "Mommy, I love you so much, daddy I love you, brother I love you."

Omayra's death on 16 November 1985 was likely a result of gangrene or hypothermia.

Her brother survived the lahars which killed her father and aunt, as did her mother who was in Bogota at the time of the deadly eruption.

She later said about Omayra's death: "It is horrible, but we have to think about the living... I will live for my son, who only lost a finger."

The Colombian government were heavily criticised for their lack of preparation amid the threat of the volcano in wake of Omayra's death.

Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Getty Stock Image

Topics: World News, History