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Historic Unedited Photos They Don’t Want You To See
Publication: Historical History.
Posted by
760a631d0dea2ae92cb6e9f7b157b927
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Mount Pinatubo Eruption

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Where:
Mount Pinatubo volcano, Phillippines
When:
1991-06-15
Summary:
A pick-up truck flees pyroclastic flows from the Mount Pinatubo volcano

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Mount Pinatubo Eruption



  Where:
Mount Pinatubo volcano, Phillippines

  When:
1991-06-15

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The world’s second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century occurred just 28 years ago on June 15, 1991, after 500 years of inactivity when Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted in full force and caused massive devastation. Affecting over 2.1 million people, the volcanic eruption killed 847 people, destroyed over 8,000 homes, damaged 73,000 other buildings, and eliminated the region’s infrastructure while leaving a massive footprint around the world. Has Mount Pinatubo been active since then and what do eyewitnesses say about the iconic event? Let’s take a closer look at the Mount Pinatubo eruption that was felt around the world in 1991.Advertisements:


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Located just 54 miles north of Manila, Mount Pinatubo is situated on the tripoint boundary of the Philippine provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga on the northern island of Luzon. The area is heavily influenced by Filipino culture and is home to two large military bases—the United States Naval Base Subic Bay just 23 miles south and Clark Air Base just 8.7 miles east. Because of these military bases and the dense population, the region is home to approximately six million people who are all too familiar with the volcano’s eruptive history.

In the early 1990s, the volcano was heavily eroded and obscured from view by the dense forests. Mount Pinatubo had been in a 500-year slumber until July 16, 1990, when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck 60 miles northeast and shook the Earth’s crust beneath the volcano. This caused a landslide, several local earthquakes, and powerful steam explosions that blasted three craters on the north flank of the volcano. Over the next few months, thousands of smaller earthquakes shook the volcano’s core in what would soon lead to one of the biggest explosions of the 20th century.

The Eruption – June 1991

From June 7 to June 12, 1991, magma reached the surface of Mount Pinatubo and oozed out to form a lava dome. On June 12, 1991, the oozing turned into a massive explosion that culminated three days later on June 15th to mark the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century and the largest eruption to ever affect a densely populated area. The picture of the pickup truck fleeing the pyroclastic flows embodies the frenzy that led up to and followed the eruption, which was worsened when Typhoon Yunya arrived and brought a lethal mix of ash and rain to towns and cities near the volcano. The already devastating conditions were worsened as tens of thousands of people were evacuated from the surrounding areas.

“I was there stationed at Clark Air Force Base when it happened,” one person recalled. “It was the scariest 24 hours of my life. Simultaneously with the volcano eruption, there was a massive earthquake and a typhoon hit the island. 24 hours of darkness with a typhoon-force sandblaster stripping all of the vegetation and a lot of the wildlife. And then just for giggles, boulders the size of a small car falling out of the sky. But hey, did I mention the free boat ride courtesy of the United States Navy? Thanks to the sailors of the Pacific Fleet for saving our bacon.”

Another eyewitness account of the explosion came decades later from a woman who remembered the aftermath and the devastation despite being only eight years old at the time. “I was also there, my dad was stationed in Clark,” she recalled. “We were supposed to go to Subic, but my mom had a strange dream and told my dad we’d stay near the base in a house that a friend of ours owned. It turned out to be a good idea because the typhoon drowned Subic in ash and mud; my dad spent most of his time there digging people out of collapsed buildings. I was eight, it was dark as night for almost three days, typhoons and earthquakes… we were there until it was over, then drove ourselves to La Union several days later and waited for the official evacuation, but at that point, it was mostly Air Force getting us to my dad’s family in the States… It was a crazy experience.”

The Aftermath

During the June 1991 eruption, Mount Pinatubo ejected approximately 2.4 cubic miles of material making it 10 times larger than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens and the largest eruption since that of Novarupta in 1912. Because of the sheer size and the typhoon conditions, ash from the eruption covered the region and caused 847 reported deaths, mostly from roofs collapsing from the load of accumulated volcanic matter. Fortunately, the evacuation in the days prior saved thousands of lives. The United States Air Force played a key role in these lifesaving efforts by initiating a massive airlift effort to evacuate American service members and their families.

The aftermath of Mount Pinatubo’s 1991 eruption was felt worldwide. In the region itself, 364 communities and 2.1 million people were affected with over 8,000 homes destroyed and 73,000 other buildings damaged. Roads and communications were destroyed by pyroclastic surges and flooding with the total losses for the region averaging between 10.6 and 1.2 billion pesos, which is the equivalent of $169 million today. As a result, economic development in the following years suffered greatly as communities worked to rebuild and reestablish themselves after the tragedy.

Globally, the Mount Pinatubo eruption had a widespread impact with less sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface and a drop in temperatures in the northern hemisphere. The stratospheric cloud remained in the atmosphere for three years following the eruption and also had a significant effect on the ozone levels in the atmosphere.

In the month following the June 1991 eruption, Mount Pinatubo had sporadic eruptions for another month before activity levels waned. A new lava dome formed in July 1992 but the eruption that followed was minor and marked the last official activity from the volcano. Since then, Mount Pinatubo has been relatively quiet aside from a 2002 incident when the west wall of the crater collapsed and released massive amounts of water into the Maraunot River it Botolan, Zambales. In 2011, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck close to the volcano, but no other activity was reported.

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