Terror as freak landslide causes injuries at Colombia tourist attraction
Terror and confusion swept visitors due to the collapse of part of a tourist attraction in Colombia, causing 15 injuries.
Moments of panic were experienced last Thursday, a few minutes after noon, when unsuspecting visitors to the Peñol de Guatapé rock were injured when there was a landslide from the upper part of the rock, hitting several people who were enjoying a day of walking on the pedestrian path beneath the natural monolith.
The Piedra del Peñol or Peñol de Guatapé, as it is known, is a rock formation known as a monolith, a large single-piece rock that is considered monumental. This large block of rock presents a very homogeneous formation, generally formed of igneous rocks (formed when magma cools and solidifies) or metamorphic rocks (those resulting from the transformation of already existing rocks). The difference between a monolith and a mountain is that the former is made up of a single type of rock, while the latter is made up of a set of rock formations.
This 220 m high rock houses a viewpoint at its summit that can be accessed after climbing the 715 steps that allow tourists access, to observe the natural beauty of the landscape that surrounds the Peñol.
The security cameras captured the precise moment at which a large amount of dirt and plant remains fell on the unsuspecting walkers, at this tourist centre that receives around 1,500 visitors daily.
According to authorities, 15 people were injured. Six people with some bumps and bruises were treated at the scene, while the remaining nine were referred to nearby hospitals, since their injuries required further studies. Fortunately, and despite the terrible images, none of the injured people suffered serious injuries due to chance and the fact that the material dislodged was not rock.
After the accident, the authorities decided to close the tourist attraction until there is certainty that the stone is completely safe and does not represent risks to visitors.
Why did part of the Peñol collapse?
After the first moments of fear and confusion, the authorities proceeded to evacuate the visitors to begin the investigation.
One of the first rescuers to arrive stated: “There you can see that it is pure black earth and plant material, no part of it was stone or rubble, just earth, apparently due to water saturation. They are already investigating the causes of this mass movement."
The Antioquia Risk Management authorities arrived at the site along with a commission of geologists, engineers and experts to determine the state of the rock and the causes of what happened.
According to the first reports, the heavy rains recorded in the region acted on a crack in the monolith, causing the soft material that was settled in part of it to fall.
The Colombian department of Antioquia lies mostly in the Andes, where mountains predominate, and is highly susceptible to landslides.