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Omayra Sanchez

Many see this photo from 1985 as the beginning of what we nowadays call “media globalization”, because Omayra Sanchez’s agony was followed by television cameras from all over the world. Despite all the footage that was recorded by those TV cameras, it was this photograph, of a shocking reality and humanity, that went down in history as the first broadcast of the pain and death of a human being.

Omayra Sanchez By Frank Fournier

Omayra Sanchez, 13 years old, was the victim of volcano Nevado del Ruiz’s eruption in 1985, that devastated the Armero village, in Colombia. Omayra was trapped for three days under the mud, clay and water that was left from her own house. When the paramedics, with scarce resources, tried to help her, they sadly realized there was nothing they could do, since to remove her from the deadly trap they would have to amputate her legs and the lack of a specialists on the scene would result in her death.

According to the paramedics and the journalists that surrounded her, Omayra was strong until the last minute of her life. For the three days her agony lasted she thought only about going back to school, her studies and her friends. Photographer Frank Fournier took this photo of Omayra that traveled the world and generated a worldwide controversy about the indifference of the Colombian government before the victims of natural disasters such as this.

The photograph was published months after the girl’s death and Frank Fournier was awarded the 1986 World Press Photo Premier Award for this picture.

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  1. Joan Connelly
    August 7, 2010 at 10:18 am

    How sad this photo makes me feel and yet it also makes me realize how lucky i am. In my life i always think there are people worse off than me and i feel this photo just shows how right i am.

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