Scientists compiled a database of all recorded volcanic fatalities since 1500
Santiago Billy/Associated Press
Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupted explosively on June 3, sending hot gas and rock racing downhill in what’s known as a pyroclastic flow. At least 69 people were killed. Emergency officials are trying to reach buried villages to assess the scope of the disaster, but Fuego is already the world's deadliest eruption of 2018.
The tragedy offers a grim reminder of the many dangers posed by volcanic eruptions. While pyroclastic flows figure prominently in an exhaustive list published last year by British scientists, there are many other potential threats including toxic gas and lava flows. The scientists analyzed how nearly 280,000 people have died in eruptions, including about 62,600 deaths from indirect causes such as famine and disease in the aftermath, since the year 1500.
Nearly half of the total number of direct deaths, or about 125,000, came from just seven