6. Tragic Lahars
Huaynaputina’s seismic and volcanic activity continued and steadily increased. By February 15th, 1600, earthquakes started. By the 18th, tremors were being felt every four or five minutes, some of them powerful enough to shake those who’d managed to sleep into wakefulness.
Finally, around 5 PM on February 19th, Huaynaputina erupted, sending a column of steam and ash high into the skies. Witnesses described the sound as that of giant cannons going off. Streams of lava began flowing down the mountainside, and when they reached the nearby Rio Tambo River, they created lahars – mudflows of volcanic slurry, debris, and water.