How Deadly are Volcano Eruptions?


Dr. Sarah Brown, BBC:

How many people actually die from volcanoes each year? Dr. Sarah Brown from University of Bristol reports that despite there being 1,500 active volcanoes worldwide, only about 60 volcanoes erupt each year. Most volcanic deaths in the last decade are due primarily to a few specific eruptions, such as the Indonesian volcano eruption in 2015 (200 million Indonesians live in close proximity to an active volcano). In Hawaii, lava flows have destroyed homes and evacuated thousands of residents. However, lava flows tend to not be extremely deadly due to their slow movement. Complications can occur with lava flows when residents don’t evacuate or the flow reaches the ocean, releasing toxic gas into the nearby air. Consequently, currently there is only one reported injury from the Kilauea volcano eruption, a nearby resident hit with a dangerous, flying molten rock. In general, almost all volcanic deaths are due to pyroclastic flows and lahars, volcanic avalanches and mudslides, respectively. Pyroclastic flows and lahars are not common in volcanos found in areas outside the ring of fire, such as Kilauea.

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