Murillo, the closest town to the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, lives normally

By Ernesto Guzman Ruiz

Murillo (Colombia), April 7 (BLAZETRENDS) Saint through the streets of this town.

The local authorities assure that they are prepared to attend to an eventual emergency in the event of an eruption of the volcano that continues on orange alert, but in the town there is no evacuation movement and only a few peasants from rural areas have been removed from their homes. closest to Nevado del Ruiz.

“We are very aware of the evolution that the activity of the snowfall has at this moment, of the reports both from the Colombian Geological Service, as well as from the National Risk Management Unit, and the other national, local and departmental authorities, but in general the community it is very calm”, the press officer of the Murillo Mayor’s Office, Constanza Gómez, told BLAZETRENDS.

This Good Friday in this town in the department of Tolima the day was normal, so much so that people attended the Holy Week celebrations and some 200 people accompanied the parish priest of the municipality in a Stations of the Cross.

All ready in case of emergency

Gómez recalled that the locals already know how to act in a possible emergency because they lived through what happened in the 1985 catastrophe and know what to do and even have “very well structured” contingency plans with their families in case of an eruption.

With an altitude of 5,364 meters, the Nevado del Ruiz caused the worst natural tragedy in the history of Colombia on November 13, 1985 when an eruption and melting of its glaciers caused an avalanche that devastated the town of Armero (Tolima), where they died more than 23,000 of its 25,000 inhabitants.

In this case, the Murillo Mayor’s Office, says Gómez, has already prepared a plan, especially “for the communities in the upper area” where there are four evacuation points.

“The points are conditioned to receive families. We are managing through the National and departmental Government support for these families and ensure food ”, he adds.

They also hold awareness days with the people of the area so that “everyone remembers what they should and should not do in case of an eruption.” They are joined by efforts by firefighters and Civil Defense.

The height, an advantage

According to the Colombian Geological Service (SGC), in the event of an eruption, Murillo could be affected by the fall of pyroclasts that “will surely affect us,” says Gómez, who points out that “because of the height” where the municipality is located , at about 3,000 meters above sea level, it can be very small.

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The residents who are close to the Vallecitos and Recio rivers may be affected because, according to Gómez, there will be “a rise in the river flows. They are the evacuation priority.”

They also expect the air to be contaminated in a possible eruption but “in addition to that we do not expect a higher incidence.”

Referring to the preventive evacuations ordered by the national government, Gómez said that “opinion is very divided.”

“Many people understand that they can easily recover their crops and their animals in the event of an emergency, but there is also that the peasant from Murilla is deeply rooted in his land and his customs, so in this context, take them out and tell them to come later, we look at The economic issue has not been so easy, ”he explains.

In this direction, the Mayor’s Office works with those people who choose to stay in their places despite the risk of an eruption. “So we are in the process of being able to reach them even more without having to resort to the public force, as has been seen in other municipalities.”

impact on tourism

One of the sectors that has been most affected in Murillo is tourism because the people who usually visit the town at Easter on this occasion did not arrive as in other years.

One of those who feels the rigor of these absences is the merchant Luz Neira Vargas, who tells BLAZETRENDS that they lost “everything from Holy Week” because the visitors who crowded the main park from where you can see the volcano on clear days and now you can see the fumaroles, they have not arrived.

She, who has lived in Murillo for seven years, trusts what the locals say who recommend not leaving their houses in case of an eruption.

“We are calm. We take things calmly”, the woman says that she is clear that in the event of an eruption of the sleeping giant she must go to the highlands, which is one of the “safe zones”.

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