Item: An Avalanche Tragedy in Chile
Title: An Avalanche Tragedy in Chile
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 1976 International Snow Science Workshop, Banff, Alberta
- R.E. Leon
Abstract: The Andes enter Chile in the North and extend for 3500 km along the Chile-Argentine border to the Tierra Del Fuego. This report is about an avalanche tragedy that occurred in the central section of the Chilean Andes, near Santiago (Fig . 1), where the mountains rise abruptly and where heavy snowfall produces frequent avalanches of major proportions. Unlike Europe, where quite densely populated areas are located in avalanche-prone terrain, Chile's avalanche experience is restricted to mining sites, mountain railway and highway routes, hydroelectric plants and ski resorts, where the population density is thin. In this respect, the problems more closely resemble those of Canada and the United States. Both the San Martin International Highway and the Transandean Railway, that connect Los Andes with Mendoza, are affected by avalanches which have caused death, considerable damage, and additional economic loss due ~o prolonged closures that have lasted as long as six months of the year. Likewise, the exploitation of mineral resources has been a challenge for the men who have faced the mountains in search of valuable ore. Remarkable examples of this challenge are the copper mines of Rio Blanco, El Teniente and Disputada of Las Condes; all are operating mines in Central Chile, and all are subject to avalanche hazards of various degrees (Atwater, 1970). Table 1 summarizes 182 recorded fatalities that Occurred in central Chile from 1926-1976. These statistics are probably incomplete. The account of the Caracoles tragedy is particularly well documented 1, and is next discussed in detail.
Language of Article: English
Keywords: fatalities, damage, chilean andes
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