In May of 1970, Peru had experienced one of its worst, if not the worst ever, natural catastrophes in its history. An earthquake of 7.9 on the Richter scale, lasting 45 seconds, had hit near Peru, 35 km (about 22 miles) off the coast of the Pacific. But those 45 seconds were more fatal than anyone could ever imagine; they triggered massive landslides and avalanches of glacial matter, rocks, and land that washed over parts of the country and buried entire populations under 15-20 meters (about 50-65 ft) of land. Nearly 70,000 people were killed, an entire town was completely wiped off the map.
In the highland town of Yungay, only 4 palm trees, a statue of Christ, and the cemetery area were all that remained. Every other part of Yungay was buried under the landslide, coming down at speeds of 190 km/h (120 mph). Ironically, the cemetery remained intact and anyone who managed to climb up to it survived, as it is the highest point in the area.
Emily Bloor, a British travel blogger, visited the town of Yungay and returned with vivid photographs depicting the beauty of Yungay. Looking at them today gives no clues to what happened there just several decades ago.
The highland panorama
People visiting modern-day's Yungay mainly come here as a stop on their way to closer cities, or as a hiking destination. There is the challenging Laguna 69 hike, the Huandoy Icefall acclimatization hike starting near Yungay, and, of course, the guided tour in the cemetery. The acclimatization hike is rather easy and is meant to help you acclimate to the high altitudes in the area.
A bus crushed to the ground by the landslide
The 4 palm trees that remained after the disaster
Remains of a church
The entrance half-buried beneath the ground
A picture of the town before the catastrophe
Entrance to the town