The relief efforts were hindered by the composition of the mud, which made it nearly impossible to move through without becoming stuck. By the time relief workers reached Armero twelve hours after the eruption, many of the victims with serious injuries were dead. The relief workers were horrified by the landscape of fallen trees, disfigured human bodies, and piles of debris from entire houses. This was the second-deadliest volcanic disaster of the 20th century, surpassed only by the 1902 eruption of Mount Pelée, and is the fourth-deadliest volcanic event recorded since 1500 AD. The event was a foreseeable catastrophe exacerbated by unawareness of the volcano's destructive history; geologists and other experts had warned authorities and media outlets about the danger over the weeks and days leading up to the eruption. Hazard maps for the vicinity were prepared, but poorly distributed. On the day of the eruption, several evacuation attempts were made, but a severe storm restricted communications. Many victims stayed in their houses as they had been instructed, believing that the eruption had ended. The noise from the storm may have prevented many from hearing the sounds from Ruiz until it was too late.
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