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March 18, 1944: Mount Vesuvius makes most recent eruption

March 18, 2014

On March 18, 1944, smoke and lava flows appeared over the edge of Mount Vesuvius in Italy, beginning a two-week eruption of the volcano. It was the most recent time Vesuvius erupted.

Vesuvius is best known for the eruption in 79 AD that destroyed Pompeii and covered it in a layer of burning ash. Today, much of that historic city and the people in it were preserved in near perfect condition. Tourists now visit the site to learn about the history of the people who lived there when disaster struck.

But while Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Mount Vesuvius is a national park accessible to visitors, the volcano is still dangerous. It has erupted many times over the years, with the 1944 eruption being the most recent. Twenty-eight people were killed in the 1944 eruption. The volcano continues to be closely monitored, with many experts arguing that “the big one” is still yet to come. At least two weeks’ notice of an eruption is expected if the worst were to happen. The Italian government has an emergency evacuation plan in place, which would take about seven days to move 600,000 people living in the area. Because of this, efforts are being made to move people out of the “Red Zone” and turn more of the area into a national park.