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Out of the Inferno


Premiere: Monday, July 20, 1998 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS.
(Watch for repeat showings on your local PBS station.)

More than 500 volcanoes in the world today are said to be in a dangerous and volatile state. OUT OF THE INFERNO is about the most deadly of them: Mts. Vesuvius, Etna, Popocatapetl, Pinatubo, and Unzen. From the vast, swirling mud flows that sweep down from melted mountain glaciers to the boiling pyroclastic ash-clouds that choked the life from ancient Pompeii, this program spotlights the terrifying and often unpredictable variety of a volcano's moods.

In one of the most heart-wrenching segments of the entire series, this episode journeys to the village of Armero, Colombia, where, in 1985, the volcanic eruption of Nevada Del Ruiz sent a huge mud flow cascading down the mountainside, wiping out the village and claiming 25,000 lives. The tragedy was embodied in the image of Omaira Sanchez, a 13-year-old girl who was trapped up to her neck in volcanic mud and dead bodies for more than three days, when she died there. This hour also looks at Maurice and Katia Krafft -- two journalists whose love of volcanoes carried them fatally close to Japan's Mount Unzen at the wrong time.

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A witness describes the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo (1.6 MB).

Finally, the program returns to the staggering explosion of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, offering remarkable video footage of the blast and eyewitness commentary from fleeing American servicemen stationed at Clark Air Force Base.

Overview  |  Program 1: Hell's Crust  |  Program 2: The Restless Planet
Program 3: Out of the Inferno  | 
Program 4: Waves of Destruction

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