Story Time

Girl Thinks She Lost Her Sister Forever in an Avalanche, Discovers She’s Alive 30 Years Later

Thirty years after losing both their parents to a volcanic eruption and getting adopted by different families, Colombian sisters dramatically got reunited.

Colombian sisters, Jaqueline Vásquez Sánchez and Suly Janeth Sánchez, nine and three years old respectively, lived with their parents outside Armero, the most significant urban center in the province of Tolima.

The thriving city was known for its cotton production and was popularly dubbed “Colombia’s white city,” but everything soon changed tragically.

Jacqueline Vasquez Sanchez and her sister Lorena Sanchez smile as they hug each other |  Source: |

Jacqueline Vasquez Sanchez and her sister Lorena Sanchez smile as they hug each other | Source: |

On November 13, 1985, the kids were left with a babysitter while their parents went into the city to work, but none of them could have predicted the terrible events that were to come.

The Nevado del Ruiz volcano, located 11 kilometers kilometers away from Armero, erupted. Unknown to the residents, the eruption had resulted in an avalanche of water, debris, and volcanic material breaking towards the town at lightning speed.

The fatal mud caught everyone by surprise, and it destroyed the city, resulting in the death of 25,000 people who were tragically buried under the volcanic rubble.

Sadly, it also proved to be the last day Jaqueline and Suly would see their parents. The girls were subsequently taken to government officials after the disaster.

The kids’ problems were compounded when the sisters were mistakenly placed into two different families due to the chaos generated by the volcano. It proved to be the last time Jaqueline would see her younger sister until a video 30 years later changed everything.

Three decades after the unfortunate events that separated her from her younger sister, Jaqueline was scrolling through Facebook when she stumbled on a video posted by Armando Armero Foundation.

The foundation, which was set up as a non-governmental organization that helps reunite victims of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano eruption, featured a lady hoping to be reunited with her surviving family members.

Jacqueline could not believe her eyes; the lady in the video looked like someone who could be her sister. Jaqueline was convinced it was her. Afterwards, she contacted the foundation and requested a DNA test to confirm they were siblings.

DNA tests were conducted, and the results came back dramatically positive. The sisters would be reunited 30 years after they lost each other.


In a very emotional moment, Jaqueline and Suly finally reunited in Bogota, the Colombian capital, and the sisters spent almost two minutes sharing a hug.

Suly, now called Lorena Santos, declared she was glad to find her elder sister. The 33-year-old had initially done the video hoping to reunite with her mother because she was too young to remember she had a sister at the time of their separation.

The younger sister, who had become a veterinarian and mother to a daughter, explained that it was beautiful to be reunited with her elder sister. It was also sad because it took her three decades to learn she had a sister. Lorena said:

“Now I have to learn about what happened to her during the last 30 years, and she has to do the same.”

Jaqueline, 39, worked at a clothing factory. Also, a mother to two children, she disclosed that the reunion was very emotional, but she was also scared of the reaction she might get from her younger sister.

The mother of two declared that she did not know if she would be rejected or not. Even though she was thrilled, Jaqueline kept wondering if her sister would be able to love her.

However, the sister decided they would keep in contact and learn as much as possible about each other’s lives. They were also planning to create a family bond that should have existed during all those years of separation.