Memories of the 76th anniversary of the glacial lake outburst of 1941

I n 1941, while Europe was suffering the deadliest military conflict in history in absolute terms of total casualties, Huaraz and the now called district of Independencia suffered its worst glacial lake outburst flood. According to very interesting and accurate investigations by archaeologist Steven Wegner, the glacial lake outburst of Lake Palcacocha released an estimated combined flood volume between eight and 12 million cubic meters of water. Within minutes it reached the city of Huaraz and erased much of the northern expansion district called Centenario.

As a result of the glacial lake outburst, a brand-new, two-story tourist hotel, built by the national government and just inaugurated five days before the flood was torn from its foundations and carried relatively intact for some distance before being smashed into the Santa River to the west. Other buildings that were partly or completely destroyed were the School of Arts and Trades, a Boys’ Vocational School, the National Women’s School, the Lawn Tennis Club, the slaughterhouse, various new chalets of wealthy families, and every bridge over the Santa River north of Huaraz.

The estimated death toll varies between 1,800 and 8,000 of whom 500 deadly victims were temporarily transferred to Belén Hospital and then taken to the cemetery for a mass burial in a mass grave. The damages reached towards the northern part of the city destroying all the bridges on the Santa River and also heavily damaged more than 80 kilometres of the railroad Huallanca-Chimbote.

In 2003, an avalanche of rocks and ice fell in Lake Palcacocha causing an overflow and damaged the dike. Since 2012, the Regional Government of Ancash has implemented a drain off system to lower the level and volume of water in the lagoon. However, a so much needed Early Warning System which could alarm the local population in time, has still not be installed. Earlier this year in January, authorities and officials of Huaraz, the district of Independencia and the Regional Government of Ancash, as well as Congressman Ricardo Narváez Soto, visited Lake Palcacocha with the purpose of establishing actions that allow providing the needed security to the population before a possible glacial lake outburst flood. However, till to date, nothing concrete has happened. In the meantime, local citizens can only pray that history won’t repeat itself.

Author: Juan Salazar Posada
Source: Nota Técnica 07 – Lo que el agua se llevo: Consecuencias y lecciones del aluvión de Huaraz de 1941 – Steven A. Wegner
Photo: Arnold Heim, 24. VI. 1947

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

*

Locals question Huanchaco’s 25th spot in South American beach ranking

In a beach ranking which was created by the FlightNetwork team who talked to over 1,200 travel journalists, editors, bloggers […]

BREAKING: Three Spanish mountaineers and Peruvian guide die on Mateo

An expedition counting four Spanish climbers and their mountain guide from Huaraz (Rubén Dario Alva) was hit by surprise and […]

Early seismic movement awakens citizens Ancash coast

A perceptible tremor of 4.6 on the Richter scale awoke many people on the Ancash shore living in Huarmey, Casma, […]

Baby with 12 fingers and 12 toes born in Chimbote hospital

A beautiful baby was born in the Hospital La Caleta in Chimbote on the eve of New Year. However, when […]

Huanchaco Beach in top 50 best beaches of South America

Earlier this week, the Chamber of Tourism of Huanchaco announced to be proud that Huanchaco Beach was chosen among South […]

Visitors are prohibited to take plastic into Huascaran National Park

William Martínez Shiñquin, head of the Huascarán National Park, announced that they have issued a provision that prohibits the entry […]

Local guide shares search details and reveals that Jesse Galganov was last seen in Taullipampa

Earlier this week, the editor of The Huaraz Telegraph spoke with Beto Pinto Toledo, manager and founder of local tourism […]

Meet cebiche de chocho, Huaraz’s hearty food icon

Perhaps one of the most popular local dishes of Huaraz, yet one which is often overlooked by travellers, is cebiche […]

Local newspaper spreads painful fake news on Jesse Galganov

What was announced as a huge scoop on the front page of the Friday morning edition of local newspaper Prensa […]

No visits to Pastoruri Glacier; access road closed until the 29th of December

Jesús López Gómez, head of the Huascarán National Park (SERNANP – Huaraz) informed the press and agencies in Huaraz and […]

Priest involved in US pedophile scandal now preaches in Chimbote

Last night, Cuarto Poder, a journalistic research programme broadcasted on America T.V. (channel 4 in Peru) revealed that a priest […]

Sport Rosario extends contracts and will participate in the Copa Sudamericana

On Sunday the 3rd of December, the last matches for the Clausura Tournament of the Primera División were played and […]

Weather expert warns Huaraz will not be spared from waterlogging

University professor and local meteorologist Rafael Figueroa Tauquino lamented that despite of the warnings realised by the Santiago Antúnez de […]

Traditional System of Corongo’s Water Judges become Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

The Traditional System of Corongo’s Water Judges (Sistema de Jueces de Agua de Corongo) is inscribed on the Representative List […]

Human excrements, plastic bags and remains of food found on Huascarán

The team consisted of eight specialists from the National Research Institute of Glaciers and Mountain Ecosystems (INAIGEM) which between August […]

Researchers confirm Huascarán is actually 11 metres lower than previously assumed

Since 1873, nine measurements of the south and north peaks of Huascarán have been made estimating all different heights. The […]

A brief history of Mataraju; Peru´s tallest mountain

Mount Huascarán (in Ancash Quechua language: Mataraju, ‘Twin Nevados’), is a massif located in the Western Cordillera of the Andes, […]

Dutchman seeking to educate Peruvian citizens and farmers about climate change

Henk Smeenk is a Dutch man with a mission: to help farmers in developing countries face the challenges of climate […]