I'm thinking of a scenario similar to that of the Metro 2033 series (minus the magic, paranormal and mutants)

A worst case scenario nuclear apocalypse has happened: 90% of the world's nuclear arsenal (including dirty bombs) has been detonated over most metropolitan areas in the world. Electronic equipment has been EMP'd, communication lines have been severed and governments/militaries have been decimated. The immediate survivors are those who were underground (subway, tunnels, sewers, catacombs, etc.) at the moment of the detonations as well as those away from cities.

The wind soon picks up soot, smoke, and radioactive fallout and spreads it through the world, drastically diminishing the survival rate of those who survived in the country.

In City X, which has a vast underground (London, Moscow, New York, Paris, Tokyo?, Beijing?) there is a large group of survivors (5,000+) spread through the tunnels. Will they be able to survive there until the surface becomes habitable? How would they go about it?

Assume no outside help, current technology and the least possible amount of outlandish situations (there's no livestock underground unless it's absolutely necessary for the survival of the people trapped there)

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    $\begingroup$ Miguel I like the question but can you narrow it down and ad some constraints? As currently written, 100 different answers could all effectively cover this situation. Try explaining what would make a particular question better or worse. And it probably wouldn't hurt to focus on a particular resource. Food maybe. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 17 '17 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ Note that radioactive fallout happens primarily with near-ground nuclear explosions. For detonations at altitude, which is what you'd expect against non-hardened targets (the shock wave and fireball do plenty enough damage already, thank you), radioactive fallout is greatly reduced. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Feb 17 '17 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ @James is right. Answers about finding food in Beijing's subways will be completely different from those addressing how to find fuel in the catacombs of Paris. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Feb 17 '17 at 21:06


Unless they are prepared as a shelter, fallout will seep into the underground spaces and poison the survivors. There will be little food, and no way to get more.

If there is a prepared shelter, that will greatly increase the chances for initial survival, but these shelters are designed for days or weeks, not years. Fuel will run out, filters will be clogged, and so on.

I'm not aware of any public/government bunkers that were designed for long-term survival. After the initial attack, survivors would have to be rescued and transported to uncontaminated areas. (Where those would be is usually left unanswered.)


Lots of luck.

You would need energy for light and climate control. You would need light for food generation. You would need plants to grow food (see other threads here that talk about how many square meters needed to grow food for people) or a vast store of MREs.

How much time would you have to set this up? Unless the entire complex was preplanned and set up ready for use, it is unlikely that you could build it on the fly.

The best survival bet would be to be nowhere near the blasts and farm while you could and gather canned goods for the long winter to come.

  • $\begingroup$ Good luck farming during nuclear winter. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Feb 17 '17 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ Yep. You might get a bit of farming in before it sets in (mostly harvesting what's already planted before it dies on the vine). $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Feb 18 '17 at 0:26

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