Print version ISSN 0016-7169
El Chichón volcano erupted explosively on March 28, 1982, after a long quiescence, producing a heavy wet ash fall locally and extensive ash fall over 200 km away that resulted in closing of airports and roads. Intermittent small eruptions continued until the following weekend, when two Plinian phases occurred on April 3 and 4. The entire eruption lasted about a week and produced about 2000 deaths, the displacement of about 20,000 people, and severe economic loss, not only in the proximal areas (<10 km) but also in the distal areas from the heavy ash falls. In this paper, we give an eye witness account of the situation at that time, before there was any Civil Protection agency in Mexico. The disaster resulted from several factors, among them the lack of central organization and decision making by inexperienced authorities, resulting in confusion and contradictory actions. Additionally, the lack of awareness and preparedness among the public made the situation more critical.
Keywords : El Chichón Volcano; disaster; eye-witness account of eruption.