Public Domain Vector drawing of a nuclear explosion behind a generic city skyline
22 Jan 2023

Research team on Cypress urges the public to prepare for the possibility of nuclear attacks


A research team on Cypress is urging the public to take the possibility of a nuclear strike seriously. They are also showing how city residents can take steps for how to survive if a nuclear blast should occur. 

Many countries in Europe has been increasing and overhauling their civil defence since the start of the Ukraine war. However, the awareness among the public on what to do in case an attack occurs may or may not have sunk in yet. 

Professor Dimitris Drikakis is the chair for the Cypress Research Institute for Defence and Safety.

"We need to consider this with the same level of seriousness as older generations of people did in the 50s, 60s and 70s", he says to Swedish Television.  

In an article on Indy100.com, Lead author Dr Ioannis Kokkinakis, of the University of Nicosia, Cyprus, says that people should should take cover near  the corners of concrete buildings  for the best chance of survival, rather than cower near windows and doors:

"Even in the front room facing the explosion, one can be safe from the high airspeeds if positioned at the corners of the wall facing the blast."

In a new study, a research team has analysed the effect of strategic nuclear bombs on city infrastructure. The study focuses on bombs with a detonating power of 750 kilotons. (The Hiroshima bomb in 1945 was 15 kilotons)

The research was published in the Journal Physics of Fluids and based on computer simulations. The team used advanced modeling techniques to study how a nuclear explosion wave would affect a standing structure.

A typical intercontinental missile atomic bomb explosion was simulated along with the blastwave to see what would happen to people taking cover indoors. In order to find out where would be the best place to be, mock-up rooms, windows, doorways and corridors were used to determine the air speed resulting from the blast wave.

Professor Dimitris Drikakis said:

"Before our study, the danger to people inside a concrete-reinforced building that withstands the blast wave was unclear. Our study shows high air speeds remain a considerable hazard and can still result in severe injuries or even fatalities."

In an atomic bomb explosion, people die immediately near the epicenter and almost all infrastructure is levelled with the ground by the shock wave.

A few kilometers away, the radiation and heat will start fires to structures.  The shock wave is strong enough up to seven kilometers away from the impact to shatter windows, throw objects around and injure or kill people them. The G-force on a person can be up to 18 times the body weight.

"In the event of a nuclear explosion, you must take shelter further into the building, away from windows. Preferably, go for rooms that have no openings in the direction of the explosion. If you don't have time to do that, stand in a corner as far from the windows as possible. If you do this, your chances of survival will increase, says Dimitris Drikakis, who is behind the new study.

Illustration: Public Domain Vector drawing of an imaginary nuclear explosion near a city.