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Landslide in Northern Peru leaves 20,000 Dead

By Patrick Mondout

On May 31, 1970, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake killed 66,794 and caused $500 million in property damage. Earthquake-induced rock and snow avalanche on Mt. Huascaran, Peru, buried the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca. The death toll in these areas was over 20,000. The avalanche started as a sliding mass of glacial ice and rock about 3,000 feet wide and one mile long. The avalanche swept about 11 miles to Yungay at a speed of 100 miles per hour. The fast-moving mass picked up glacial deposits and by the time it reached Yungay, it is estimated to have consisted of about 80 million cubic yards of water, mud, and rocks.


Rock and snow avalanche, Mount Huascaran, Peru.

Photo by G. Plafker, courtesy of the USGS


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Deposits path of the Mt. Huascaran, Peru, rock and snow avalanche.

Photo courtesy of Servicio Aerofotografico Nacional de Peru, 13 June 1970

Date(s): May 31, 1970

Location: near Huarez, Peru

Deaths: 66,000+

Injuries: unknown

Damage: $500M

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