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Gustavo Venancio
Dr. Maryam Alikhani
English Composition ENG111-80336
Escape from the Inevitable
People in our society are mostly afraid of poverty, ill health, or even the loss of someone.
Those fears are not even the worst of all. Natural disasters have been taking people’s lives
without even warning us. “A certain fatalism comes into play. When the ground starts moving all
bets are off” (Didion par. 2). This shows that an earthquake can have a bad impact on people’s
actions so incorporating it into a big community or a big crowd of people can cause accidents
and loss of control among them. The truth is that we are not safe against these unexpected
disasters but a question always is asked: “Can we be ready to survive against the rage of our
nature?” For a long time in our history, we have witnessed the worst incidents caused for this
rage, and that would help us to answer this question and make us realize that as human beings;
we are not safe from any natural disasters and the only solution would be praying that this
nightmare can end.
Chile's earthquake of 1960 was one of the largest earthquakes recorded in the 20th
century. The earthquake, which had a magnitude of 9.6, hit around 3:00 pm in the city of
Valdivia on May 22, 1960. People from the city of Valdivia were unable to stand for a long
period because the ground shook so hard that most of the people were knocked off their feet. The
city suffered more than 20 minutes because of the earthquake, but that was not the end of that
nightmare. After the ground stopped shaking, a foreshock of a magnitude of 8.1 caused more
destruction in the city of Concepcion. This earthquake not only caused destruction in the country
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of Chile but also caused destruction in Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, and the Pacific coast of
the United States with tsunamis ranging from 18 feet to 5.6 feet “The quake expanded the
country of Chile by an area equal to about 1,500 football fields. It also caused a lot of
destruction. Twelve hours after the shaking stopped, a tsunami smashed into Hawaii. Twelve
hours later, another tsunami smashed into Japan.” (Bichell par. 5). Two days after this
earthquake the “Cordon Caulle Volcano” located in Chile’s lake district erupted after 40 years of
inactivity causing even more destruction. The effects of these continuous disasters left almost
two million people homeless, and the number of dead people was more than 2,000. This
earthquake left a mark on the Chilean habitats and makes us believe that we would have not to
escape from a disaster of this magnitude.
In 1960 one of the worst earthquakes hit the city of Valparaiso located in Chile, but what
nobody knew was that 10 years later another earthquake would cause one of the worst incidents
in the history of Peru. On May 31, 1970, at around 3 p.m., an 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck
the Pacific Ocean near the department of La Libertad and Ancash in Peru. This earthquake also
causes damage to the other three departments in Peru, and some parts of Ecuador and Brazil, but
who got the worst part was a town called “Yungay”. Yungay was a small town located near
Mount Huascaran, which is one of the highest mountains in Peru, in the department of Ancash.
The earthquake was so strong that destabilized the glacier of mount Huascaran, causing a mass
of rocks, ice and snow started to go downhill. After 3 minutes the wave of debris picked up more
glacial deposits and also began to spit out mud, dust, and boulders. Unfortunately, this mass of
rocks hit Yungay and two other small towns, causing all their habitats to be buried by this
landslide. Mateo Casaverde, one of the survivors from the catastrophe, says: “The landslide hit
the cemetery, about five meters below our feet. The sky went dark because of all the dust, mostly
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from all of the destroyed homes. We turned to look, and Yungay, as well as its thousands of
inhabitants, had completely disappeared.” (La Rue par.7) Only 350 people survived, of which
300 were children, who had been taken to a local circus on the outskirts of the town. This
earthquake took the lives of more than 74,000 people, of which 25,000 were declared missing.
One of the worst earthquakes that have occurred in Peru.
This earthquake took place in Japan and is recorded as one of the strongest earthquakes in
the past ten years. On March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. an earthquake hit the ocean near Miyagi,
Fukushima, and Iwate prefectures in Japan causing a lot of destruction and a destructive tsunami
that hit the coast with waves between 9 and 32 feet. These disasters cause that in Fukushima,
Ibaraki, and Chiba prefectures thousands of homes were destroyed, also aftershocks with a
magnitude of 6.8, 7.0,7.5 were registered days after the earthquake. Fukushima was one of the
most affected prefectures because the temblor cut the main power into the nuclear plants and the
tsunami damaged the backup generators at some of those plants; this caused a concern of
possible radiation exposure so more than ten thousand people have to evacuate the prefecture.
Chihiro Kanno was one of the survivors of Rikuzentakata city, one of the cities that lost a tenth
of their population cause of the tsunami, share her experience “Chihiro managed to survive,
trapped in a tiny air pocket inside the building. Her friend, whose hand she had been clasping,
was one of seven of her teammates who were swept away” (Three Earthquake and Tsunami
Survivor Stories par. 1). The earthquake and tsunami killed 20,000 people, of which 12,000 died
by drowning. This is proof that we are not safe from these disasters.
The earthquakes from Chile, Peru, and Japan show us that if a strong earthquake hit any
of our countries would be undefended against this power. For example, the people of the
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department of Yungay in Peru have no chance against the avalanche that caused the earthquake
and also caused the death of more than 74,000 people. These three incidents conclude that in an
earthquake or any natural disaster we are not safe and we may disappear from the cause of one of
these disasters one day.
Works Cited
Rue, Alan La, and Author: Alan La Rue. “Yungay 1970-2009: Remembering the Tragedy of the
Earthquake.” News from Peru - Peruvian Times, 15 Feb. 2019,
Bichell, Rae Ellen. “When the Biggest Earthquake Ever Recorded Hit Chile, It Rocked the
World.” NPR, NPR, 29 Aug. 2016,
“Three Earthquake and Tsunami Survivor Stories.” Social Science Docket, vol. 13, no. 2,
Summer/Fall2013 2013, p. 44. EBSCOhost,
Didion, Joan “Earthquake.” The Bedford Reader. Ed. X. J. Kennedy, Dorothy M.
Kennedy, Jane E. Aaron, and Ellen Kuhl Repetto. 14th ed. Boston: Bedford/St.
Martin’s, 2019. 269.
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