Last phrases of radio operator earlier than being buried alive below avalanche of ash

A volunteer radio operator’s chilling last words were caught on tape before a volcano “more powerful than a nuclear bomb” consumed him.

Gerry Martin described the horror scenes to listeners during the eruption of Mount St Helens in Washington. Some 57 people were killed, 200 homes were buried under ash, and bridges, highways and railways were destroyed.

The day before the disaster, the 64-year-old Navy veteran and short wave radio operator, drove his motor home onto a ridge near the volcano. But as it erupted, he provided listeners with an account of what he saw.

READ MORE: Plane passengers inadvertently captured their own last moments in chilling footage

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His recording ended with the haunting words: “Gentlemen, the camper and car that’s sitting over to the south of me is covered. It’s going to hit me, too.

Gerry told listeners: 'It's going to hit me too'
Gerry told listeners: ‘It’s going to hit me too’

“We can’t get out of here.”

No trace of Gerry or his motor home was ever found. That fateful day Gerry was not only a volunteer for an emergency services network known as Amateur Radio Emergency Services, but a witness to one of the most significant volcanic events in US history.

The massive debris avalance, triggered by a 5.1 magnitude earthquake caused the lateral eruption that reduced the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 9,677ft to 8,363ft, leaving a mile-wide horseshoe-shaped crater.

Two months earlier, researchers began recording a series of small earthquakes surrounding the mountain and started to realise something was going on under the surface.

It remains one of America's most deadly volcanic disasters
It remains one of America’s most deadly volcanic disasters

The earthquakes steadily grew in magnitude to around 4.0 on the Richter scale and teams were sent out to document the changes and take readings.

Scientists were able to establish that the volcano was stirring into life and was about to blow, and with a bulge on the north side growing by 6ft per day, it was only a matter of time.

One boffin, who first called in the impending eruption didn’t have much time before it physically exploded, killing him instantly.

It blasted laterally, overtaking the speed of the landslide, spewing out hot gasses at over 300 miles an hour.

Gerry parked nearby never to be seen again
Gerry parked nearby never to be seen again

Within minutes, it had obliterated everything in its path. The burst was an estimated 500 times stronger than that of the atomic bomb that levelled Hiroshima, Ranker reports.

It floored trees for at least 230 miles around and Spirit Lake was instantly filled with smouldering debris as a plume of ash towered over 80,000ft high.

The 57 people who perished died from asphyxiation having been buried alive under the hot ash.

They included photographer, Robert Landsburg who heard the boom before being completely buried with his car.

Gerry's haunting final words were immortalised on tape
Gerry’s haunting final words were immortalised on tape

When his body was discovered, he had managed to protect his camera and film allowing it to be developed with chilling pictures capturing the growing ash cloud as it approached him.

The 1980 volcanic event remains the deadliest and most economically destructive in American history.

Mount St Helens remains the most active volcano in the Cascade Range, occasionally showing signs of life, even now.

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