Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Deadliest volcano eruptions in history

"You could hear women lamenting, children crying, men shouting. Some were calling for parents, others for children or spouses; they could only recognize them by their voices. Some bemoaned their own lot, other that of their near and dear. There were some so afraid of death that they prayed for death. Many raised their hands to the gods, and even more believed that there were no gods any longer and that this was one last unending night for the world."

Pliny the Younger, 79 A.D., describing the eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, killing thousands.

Volcanic eruptions have killed more than 300,000 people since 1500 - from lava flows, ash falls, mudflows, tsunamis and posteruption starvation. The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, which killed 57 people, brought national attention to the dangers of volcanos in the Pacific "Ring of Fire," which includes St. Helens, Rainier, Baker and Hood. Here's a list of some of the deadliest volcano activity in the past 500 years, and the approximate death tolls:

-Kelut, Indonesia, 1586: 10,000

-Vesuvius, Italy, 1631: 4,000

-Oshima, Japan, 1741: 1,481

-Papadanyan, Indonesia, 1772: 2,960

-Lakagigar, Iceland, 1783: 9,340

-Unzen, Japan, 1792: 15,000

-Tambora, Indonesia, 1815: 92,000

-Galunggung, Indonesia, 1822: 4,000

-Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia, 1845: 1,000

-Krakatau, Indonesia, 1883: 36,417

-Ritter, Papua New Guinea, 1888: 3,000

-Mount Pelee, Martinique, 1902: 29,000

-Kelut, Indonesia, 1919: 5,110

-Lamington, Papua New Guinea, 1951: 2,942

-Hibok-Hibok, Philippines, 1951: 500

-Agung, Indonesia, 1963: 1,148

-El Chichon, Mexico, 1982: 2,000

-Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia, 1985: 23,000

-Lake Nyos, Cameroon, 1986: 1,700

-Mount Pinatubo, Philippines, 1991-1996: 800

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