Since March 18, 1944, Italy's Mount Vesuvius has sat quiet - the longest quiet stage for the volcano in the last 500 years. While there are no immediate concerns of an impending eruption, officials remain on alert due to the high concentrations of human population (around three million people) around the volcano and its tendency for sudden and violent eruptions. The 1944 eruption caught many off guard and is blamed for 26 deaths and the destruction of 88 planes from a group of United States B-52 bombers that had recently arrived in the midst of World War II. Of course, the event is fairly minor in comparison with the mountain's most famous eruption.
The eruption in question actually came in two stages on August 24th and 25th, 79 AD. As with today, there was a high population in and around the volcano and casualties were high. The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed and an estimated 10,000 to 25,000 lives were lost. In the city of Pompeii, the ash deposits that smothered the life from the citizens also formed casts that preserved the shapes of their bodies. Today, those casts are still on display as a reminder of the power of Mother Nature.
Read more on Pompeii.
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