Unbroken despite a family tragedy

May I introduce Carlos Aymituma to you?

For 18 months Carlos has been working as a cameraman and technician in our media centre.  The father of three is a key person in our team.  He beams into the camera as though the trauma of his childhood never happened.

On 31st May 1970 at exactly 3:23 pm and 32 seconds the earth quakes in Ancash Province.  This disastrous earthquake measures 7.9 on the Richter Scale.  A large part of the glaciated north-west flank of Huascarán, with its 6,768m Peru’s highest peak, breaks off and crashes into the depths.  Roughly 50million cubic metres of ice, mud and debris charge towards the city of Yungay at a speed of 220 km/h.  Four minutes later the gigantic avalanche has already covered 14.5 km.  Within seconds a cloud of dust smothered the city.  Only several days later did the complete magnitude of the disaster become clear.  To this day Peru mourns for the 15,000 killed that day in Yungay.  The whole of the buried town was declared a national cemetery.

It is Sunday.  Carlos’ parents recently moved to the city and today his father wanted to go into the countryside to buy food for his chickens.  Carlos and his four siblings are visiting his grandparents, who live in a suburb, while their mother is on the way to Yungay’s market.

The ten-year old was just running city-wards when the quake started.  What he suddenly sees is reminiscent of a Hollywood film.  The valley before him disappears in dust and debris.  What is going on? Where are Mummy and Daddy? He spends the night in the open field with other survivors.  The city he once knew has ceased to exist.

Like most of the corpses Carlos’s mother’s corpse was never excavated.  After two days of agitated searching his father found his children.  Three of the half-orphans continued living with him while the other two moved to live with their grandparents.

I ask our cameraman: “Carlos, did this tragedy not totally smother your faith in God?”

“No, indeed, it did not,” was the answer slowly and prudentially given.  Then he reported how the story continued.  “After the earthquake many missionaries came to our area.  A great revival started and the churches were packed.  Many people were comforted and strengthened through their faith in Jesus Christ.”

Two years after the historic earthquake twelve-year old Carlos gave his life to God.  The devout Christian says today: “Of course such an event leaves a big impression on my life, but I thank God that he has carried me in arms until this very day“ /KDJ

Roughly 15,000 people died through the avalanche of dust and debris.
Huascarán.  On the left peak you can see the bare rock above the slope where everything started.  Experts say that the avalanche’s volume was between 40-50 million cubic metres.
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