highest Andes in Perú are beautiful icy mountains which form a great range
called the Cordillera Blanca ('white range'). The highest is Nevado Huascarán
(6,768 metres - 22,205 feet). Below these huge icy peaks runs a deep straight
valley called the Callejón de Huaylas. Many people live here because
there's plenty of water from the rivers for growing crops and the climate
is wonderful. But the mountains hide an icy secret: they are killers.
Perú has many earthquakes and, fortunately, most of these are small. But
occasional big ones can cause massive landslides (locally called
aluviones). Some of these have smashed through towns causing terrible
one place called Chavín de Huantar, a landslide covered the remains
of a temple thousands of years old. It's now been partly dug out and I
visited it. Chavín is a pretty place, on the other side (the Amazon
side) of the mountains.
also looked around the Callejón
de Huaylas - you know, the big valley on
the Pacific (west) side of the mountains. Here I met some kids, saw houses
made of mud and found a beautiful blue-green lake right under the highest
mountain. Lots of tourist visitors come here to see these beautiful mountains.
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to be a busy market town. Behind it reared the huge icy mountain
giant, Nevado Huascarán. When an earthquake struck central
Perú on 31st May 1970, an enormous section of ice and rock
peeled off the mountain and crashed into the river far below to
form a fast-moving flow of ice, mud, water and boulders called
an aluvión. It rampaged at incredible speed down
the valley towards the unsuspecting people of Yungay and smashed
through the town, burying the whole place. About 25,000 people
died in Yungay alone. Afterwards, all that you could see where
the town had been was a vast spread of mud and boulders, the twisted
wreck of a bus and the large palm trees which had once shaded
the central square of the town.
keep an eye on all the big mountain lakes. They've drained some
and built strong concrete overspills at the outlets of others. The
idea is to spot any dangerous-looking ice before it collapses and
also to try and make any landslide less damaging by partly containing
it, or making sure there's not a lot of water (like a lake) to mix
with it. It's when water gets mixed up in landslides that they become
so dangerous because they flow, just like rivers, but much faster.
They are hugely powerful and can carry boulders the size of houses
Chimbote earthquake which caused the destruction of Yungay,
was the worst to hit Perú in the 20th century. In total, it
killed 50,000 people with another 20,000 never found.