At least 300,000 Italians living near the Vesuvius volcano would be killed the next time it erupted if they were not evacuated beforehand, according to the first three-dimensional supercomputer simulation of the event. But in a surprise, up to 200,000 others living in the north-northwestern areas of the high-risk “Red Zone” could have more time to escape, thanks to the volcano’s towering Mount Somma rim, which acts as a natural barrier, scientists say.
“For the first time, we have seen that these flows could be substantially diverted,” Augusto Neri, of the National Geophysical and Vulcanology Institute in Pisa, who led the research, said Tuesday. “It seems that Mount Somma acts as an effective barrier. But this doesn’t mean that they’re safe.”