1. Naples, Italy
In 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius blew its top, burying the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. More than 50 subsequent eruptions and the eerie human-shaped cavities left behind in the volcano’s ash haven’t dissuaded people from populating the slopes of this volcano by the sea. The city of Naples lies at its base, and up to 650,000 people may live on its slopes, according to Guido Bertolaso, the head of Italy’s civil protection agency. An impending eruption could force the evacuation of more than millions of people.
2. Lake Nyos, Cameron
A silent killer lurks beneath in the surface of the West African lake. A pocket of magma deep below the lake bed leaks carbon dioxide into the lake above. Under the pressure of 650 feet (200 meters) of water, this carbon dioxide stays dissolved, much like the carbonation in a bottle of soda. But on the night of August 21, 1986, the water in the lake abruptly turned over, and the now-depressurized carbon dioxide exploded upward like a shaken soft drink. The resulting carbon dioxide cloud rushed downhill, asphyxiating 1,700 people and thousands more animals. In the 15 miles (24 kilometers) of valleys below the lake, almost nothing survived.
Central America gets hit by a triple threat of natural disasters: earthquakes, hurricanes and mudslides.
Along with the western coast of North and South America, Central America lies on the Ring of Fire, a seismically active loop that encircles the Pacific Ocean. Guatemala isn’t the only country affected, but it’s been hit hard: In 1976, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake killed over 23,000 people, according to the USGS. Thanks to the country’s mountainous terrain, landslides hampered transportation and rescue efforts.
The combination of topography and weather can be deadly as well. Heavy rains can saturate hillsides, leading to devastating mudslides. In 2005, the remnants of Hurricane Stan soaked Guatemala, El Salvador and southern Mexico, causing more than 900 mudslides. Entire villages were buried; one, Panabaj, was declared a cemetery after officials gave up hope of excavating the bodies of 300 missing villagers. The exact death toll is unknown, but some estimates suggest that over 2,000 people lost their lives.
4. Miami florida
No body can predict where a hurricane will hit next, but south Florida is always a reasonable bet. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the southern tip of Florida can expect more than 60 hurricanes over a 100-year period. And in 2008, sustainability company SustainLane ranked Miami as the most risky city for natural disasters in the United States.
In the year 1926, the Great Miami Hurricane damaged every building in downtown Miami and killed over 373 persons, according to the Red Cross. Less than 10 years later, the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 over 408 people in the Florida Keys. In 1960, Hurricane Donna roared through the Keys and South Florida, bringing with it 11 to 15-foot storm surges.
Perhaps the most famous hurricane to hit south Florida was 1992’s Hurricane Andrew . Andrew blasted through Florida as a Category, 4 storm with winds so high they broke measurement instruments.