Using advanced computer modeling, scientists investigated how intercontinental ballistic missile nuclear explosion manifested inside the buildings. In particular, they focused on the specific impact on the people who would be inside them. The American Institute of Physics then published the study in the journal Physics of Fluids.

“Prior to our research, it was not clear what the danger was to people inside a concrete-reinforced building capable of withstanding a blast wave,” explained lead author Dimitris Drikakis from the University of Nicosia.

Dangerous pressure wave

As Vice reported, nuclear war experts divide the immediate vicinity of a nuclear explosion into three zones. In the first, the so-called zone of heavy impact, almost everything is erased from the earth’s surface. On the other hand, in the third zone, called light impact, people are mostly slightly injured, but their lives are not threatened. For potential survivors, the most dangerous zone is the second, so-called medium damage zone. Here, robust concrete buildings can withstand the explosion and people have some chance of survival. However, they can suffer very serious injuries.

Drikakis told Sky News that, based on the study’s conclusions, high air velocity poses a significant risk. Especially in tight spaces of the building, which will intensify the effect of the pressure wave.

A practice nuclear explosion conducted as part of Operation Upshot-Knothole

How far does a person have to be to survive a nuclear blast? A study broke down the impacts

The way it works is that the resulting air bounces off the walls, breaks around the corners, and bounces through the house at a speed strong enough to throw it off significantly if hit by a person. At its worst, it can exert a force equivalent to eighteen times the weight of the human body. The researchers added that only a few seconds would have elapsed between the explosion and the arrival of the strong pressure wave. They also pointed out that the risk of subsequent radiation poisoning must not be forgotten.

Although the situation seems like a hopeless death for a person, or at least it can end in a serious injury, scientists have nevertheless marked out places that must be avoided or that are suitable for shelter.

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People should be most careful around windows, corridors and doors. “These are the three most critical places in the interior that you have to avoid,” study co-author Ioannis Kokkinakis told Sky News. In contrast, the research team found that a person was safe from the rapid air flow if he hid in the corners of rooms facing the direction of the blast.

Important for rescue operations

According to Vice, scientists used a 750-kiloton nuclear warhead in a computer simulation. This would make the zone of medium damage start about four kilometers from the detonation and end at a distance of about forty-eight kilometers. By comparison, the American atomic bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had a force of around 20 kilotons.

Illustrative image

The shelters have become tourist attractions. People are thinking about what they would do in the event of an attack

However, the Vice server pointed out that the weapons have gotten much stronger since then. For example, in the current arsenal of the United States or Russia, there are nuclear missiles with a power greater than 750 kilotons.

The authors of the study believe that understanding the effects of a nuclear explosion will help prevent injuries and direct rescue efforts to be as effective as possible. Of course, they hope their advice will never be needed.