Thursday, October 6, 2011

The agony of Omayra

Omayra Sanchez was a little girl who died during the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, which destroyed the town of Armero, Colombia, in 1985. Omayra was stuck for three days in the mud, water, corpses of relatives and debris from her home. She was 13 years old.

Rescuers found that it was impossible to save her as they would have had to amputate her legs. The other option was to use a pump-turbine to suck the sticky mud. The only pump available was too far away and unavailable.

Omayra was strong till the last moment of her life. According to aid workers and journalists who were with her for three days, she was thinking about returning to school and passing exams. Thanks to photographer Frank Fournier, the image of Omayra travelled the world exposing the indifference of the Colombian government to ordinary, destitute Columbians (which has not changed much today).

The photograph was published several months after the young girl died. Many view this picture of 1985 as the beginning of what we now call the globalization of agony.

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