Atop the Auyán tepui a giant crack in the normally impervious sandstone cap had opened up swallowing the Churum River. This new chasm was about a half mile long and roughly fifty to one hundred feet wide. The river cascaded down several hundred foot high waterfalls and finally disappeared into the mouth of a large dark cave. The remainder of the Churum’s river bed leading to the edge of the escarpment was completely dry.
Miguel Santos, a Park Ranger with the Parque Nacional Canaima, was among the first to witness the demise of Angel Falls which he immediately brought to the attention of his superiors in the Venezuelan Department of Parks. Needless to say, the Venezuelan government and especially the personnel in the Department of Parks experienced an immediate and massive panic attack with the apparent loss of their crown jewel of natural wonders. This was a potentially devastating and irreplaceable loss to the country both in terms of international tourism and national prestige.