E-Mail Messages re Volcanic Eruptions, July/August, 1997

Following are some relevant parts of E-Mail received on the Internet:

From Fri Aug  8 07:02:44 1997
A presentation of the Information Desk of the Emergency 
Operations Centre (EOC).


The cyclic pattern of volcanic activity continues with swarms 
of hybrid earthquakes every 12 hours or so. Within an hour of 
these earthquakes there is an explosive eruption causing 
pyroclastic flows down several ghauts and valleys. These 
eruptions are short lived then activity returns to normal for 
another approx 12 hours.


Montserratians awoke this morning to very clear views of the 
dome and Chances Peak for a few hours. The dome has a huge 
'V' shaped crater in the middle of it where much of the 
material in pyroclastic flows has come from. Observers also 
noted that the familiar Cable and Wireless towers on Chances 
Peak are no longer standing.


The evacuation of the lower areas of the Central Zone 
continues. Following the discovery of pyroclastic flow 
material in the upper reaches of Belham Valley (near to 
Molyneux) this morning, EOC officials toured the area to 
advise residents to evacuate. Residents of Old Towne, Happy 
Hill, Dr Woods Road, Lower Friths and parts of Upper Friths 
have been evacuated.


HMS Liverpool, the West Indies Guard Ship, will pay a short 
routine visit to Montserrat beginning on 8 August. The guard 
ship hopes to be able to undertake an aerial photographic 
survey of the areas affected by the volcanic activity and 
will be briefed on the latest developments.


Reports from press services in Guadeloupe suggesting that a 
total evacuation of Montserrat is imminent are inaccurate. 
The reports also broadcast in France, quote officials from 
the Prefet's staff on Guadeloupe who refer to the 
finalisation of the plan to evacuate the island if the need 
ever arose.

There is a contingency plan to evacuate Montserrat in the 
event it ever becomes necessary to do so and this plan is in 
continuous revision to take into account changes in 
Montserrat and the volcanic situation.

Guadeloupe would assist in such a plan if it ever became 
necessary and the Prefet of Guadeloupe together with other 
officials visited Montserrat late last month to ensure proper 
co-ordination between Montserrat and Guadeloupe if it ever 
becomes necessary.

Scientists at the MVO are unanimous in their view that the 
north of the island is safe for habitation.


The Royal Montserrat Defence Force has started to plan its 
100th anniversary celebrations for later this year.  A 
souvenir booklet "A Force For Good" is being produced and 
friends and agencies are encouraged to place congratulatory 
messages in the booklet.  There will be no charge for such 
messages but the RMDF are encouraging donations in lieu of a 
charge to the volcanic relief fund. For further information 
contact Capt. Vernon Buffonge at the RMDF at E mail address:


The following press release was issued by Government House 
this morning:


A delegation from Montserrat, led by Chief Minister Bertrand 
B. Osborne, visited the U.K. over the past week to discuss 
with the British Government future assistance to the people 
of Montserrat following the tragic events of 25 June.

As part of HMG's response it has been agreed that George 
Foulkes MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the 
Dept for International Development (DFID), would visit 
Montserrat from August 31st.

The delegation met Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, 
International Development Secretary Clare Short, and their 
Parliamentary Under Secretaries George Foulkes and Baroness 
Symons and a host of others concerned with the crisis 
resulting from the volcanic eruption.

The British Government, through DFID, have already pledged 
41 million of aid including emergency assistance, budgetary 
support and long term development assistance.

HMG have reaffirmed the UK's commitment to ensuring the 
viability of the north of the island for all those who wish 
to remain on or return to Montserrat.

Arrangements are being made to explain fully the options 
available to Montserratians, to enable informed choice.

The delegation have also had extensive meetings with DFID 
over the past three days to discuss in detail the immediate 
and longer term needs of Montserrat and its people.

The discussions included a detailed review of progress with 
the current emergency programme, including the provision of 
immediate housing for up to 1000 people in the first 
instance, the upgrading and repair of roads and the 
maintenance of adequate external transportation links. 
Suggestions concerning improvements to the current programme 
would be speedily explored.

It was agreed that:

- pending a review of the present food voucher scheme, 
assistance for children and the unemployed shall be doubled, 
backdated to July 1, 1997.

- a pay review for Public Servants should proceed as soon as 
possible, and should be in effect by 15 October. They should 
receive immediately the equivalent of two months salary as an 
advance on a pay increase, to ensure retention of vital 

It was further agreed that these meetings constitute part of 
an ongoing consultative process.

(Note: due to the length of this press release, it will be 
continued tomorrow along with more information.........)

EOC, Old Towne, Montserrat. Thursday August 7, 1997.

Date: Thu, 7 Aug 1997 11:16:19 +0000
From: "Henry T. Carmichael" 

> ......
> For those of you who have seen a copy of the Risk Map
> you can see just how much of the island is now in the exclusion
> zone. But the interesting thing is that we are still on Orange
> Alert.  All the business' that have been operating in that area

There is no more "Orange Alert".  I am appending a notice from 
the MVO site on the internet.  Maybe this was done, but the 
people on island weren't told?  Not surprising if that is the 

God Bless Montserrat

> > Montserrat Volcano Observatory > > ------------------------- > >
Definition Of Boundary Limits > and Volcanic Risk Map (see bottom of page)
> for Soufriere Hills Volcano > > Current Map is Valid and was last
updated 04 July 1997 > > ------------------------- > > The Alert Level
System Has Been Replaced By A System Based On > Proximity To The Volcano. 
> > During June 1997, 4 successive risk maps were published in > response
to the increase in activity over the northern and > western flanks of the
volcano. With the advent of each map, > the A-B zone (with no access) 
gradually increased in size to > cover most of the south of the island. 
The risk assessment was > clearly heading towards the situation where
consolidation of > risk zones and alert levels into a new risk map was
required.  > > The new risk map was designed to simplify the previous
system > where we had 7 zones on the risk map and 6 alert levels. This >
meant that there were 42 different options for action > depending on
location and the state of the volcano. Now there > are only 3 zones: the
northern, central and exclusion zones, > and only one alert level: 
"volcanic alert".  > > To decide where the boundaries between risk zones
should lie, > the extents of the pyroclastic flows and surges so far were
> marked on a map of Montserrat. These are shown on the risk map > as
black arrows. The maximum distance that pyroclastic flows > and surges
were expected to reach, given the current state of > the volcano and with
a similar type of activity, was > estimated. There is now the potential
for flows to reach much > of the south of Montserrat, and so it was
decided that an > exclusion zone should be demarcated in these areas. This
> involved drawing a line across the centre of the island from > Old Road
Bay to north of the airport. This line is controlled > primarily by the
topography of the land.  > > North of the exclusion zone it is considered
that the risk of > pyroclastic flows and surges is low enough to allow
people to > live and work as normal. However, in the case of an increase >
in activity it is thought that people who live and work in the > area
directly north of the exclusion should be ready to move > at short notice
if necessary. Therefore a central zone has > been designated in which
people should be on increased alert.  > The further that you move away
from the exclusion zone, the > safer you get. Thus the northern boundary
of the central zone > is marked as a dotted line. In the event of an
increase in > alert level, citizens should move uphill and away from the >
Belham River Valley. If it is considered that an evacuation of > the
central zone is necessary, the wailing sirens will be > sounded and
maroons (explosive fireworks) will be fired.  > > So in summary, the new
risk map is a simplification of the > old risk and alert system, and it is
hoped that it will be the > current map for at least one month and
possibly longer.  > >
----------------------------------------------------- > > Volcanic Risk
Map Updated 04 July 1997 > > [Volcanic Risk Map Updated November 1996]

Sorry I can't send the map too - but you know what it looks 
NOTE: for riskzone, press

From Fri Aug  8 06:55:21 1997
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 1997 14:06:49 -0400
From: David Lea 
To: "'MONTSERRAT E-MAIL GROUP (Electronic Evergreen)'"
Subject: update
Dear Group,
   Only a moment.....................  I just witnessed a massive eruption 
as I was set up and running on an interview with Bishop Reece, who happened 
to be up there with John Watts. The dome was absolutely clear with no 
clouds in the sky. Out of the throat of the massive dome, which we could 
clearly see, came an eruptive black column of material which preceeded 
massive pyroclastic flows that came up and over Gages Mountain.For a few 
moments looked like they would surely rush down into the Belham Valley! We 
were all preparing to move out when they seemed to stall at the bottom of 
the valley.
    The sound was unbelievable as the column rose very quickly to 25,000 
feet or so. The pyroclastic flows went East and West at the same time and 
I'm sure that they reached the sea in both directions. Rocks began to fall 
and hit my windshield, threatening to shatter it. So I jumped into my car 
and headed for the north. The rocks continued to fall all the way to St. 
Peters where they became about the size of  crushed driveway gravel. I am 
sure that the stuff which fell where I had been was the size of golf balls 
if not bigger. I saw stone from Woodsville area that were the size of 
    I don't have time to write any more and will try to do so later, but we 
are getting little sleep. Our house is full of people and there are no 
rooms for the many media people on island, let alone the many displaced 
folks. I would think that more people will leave with this eruption because 
of the debris that came down in the buffer zone.
    I must add one thing here. The noise coming from town after the initial 
eruption was like a thousand chariots on cobblestone streets and I'm not 
sure if it was much bigger rocks falling, or the crackling of a fire storm. 
We listened very closely but I have never heard anything like that before. 
I will try to get a look as soon as
possible and let you know.
    We were in yesterday and things looked quite the same as the day 
before. the flows had reached down and through the old primary school, but 
not into the new Government Headquarters complex. The Texaco tank farm and 
John Osborne's building looked OK although the Technical College was burnt 
to the ground. I will try to get a look as soon as possible.

David and Clover Lea

first version: August 8, 1997; file:/~ehem/car/islands/MTS_Email_July/Aug97.html;

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