Thirty years on, search for missing children continues

Colombians call it the “Sleeping Lion.” On the night of November 13, 1985, the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in the Andes mountains, which had been rumbling for several days, erupted again, causing the summit’s glaciers to melt. Huge mudslides came crashing down into the valley below, becoming Colombia’s worst-ever natural disaster.


Located a few dozen kilometres from the volcano, the small town of Armero, which had not been evacuated, was swallowed by the mud. Over 23,000 people were killed in their sleep and thousands more injured. The terrible agony of a little girl trapped in the mud, 13-year-old Omaira Sanchez, was broadcast live around the world on television.

Today, more than 30 years after the tragedy, the survivors of Armero have forgotten nothing and remain traumatised. Little Omaira has become an icon and many Colombians come to pay their respects at her grave.

Meanwhile, dozens of mothers are still looking for their children, convinced that they somehow survived. Some say they caught a glimpse of them being saved by rescue workers on television. Our reporters in Colombia went to meet these mothers fighting to find their children.

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