The Latest News!
1 September 1997
Deadly gas emissions from poorly known Philippine volcano
One child was reportedly suffocated and about 100 people left sick by toxic gases issuing from Silay, a 1535 m high stratovolcano on the Philippine island of Negros listed only as "Holocene" in the 1994 edition of "Volcanoes of the World". The Swiss newspaper "Neue Zürcher Zeitung" (the original source being Associated Press) reported this event on 29 August as having taken place "three weeks ago" when "dense mist smelling of smoke" covered four mountain villages near the volcano. Silay lies north of frequently active Canlaon volcano which killed three climbers in August 1996.
In the same issue (but here based on the Deutsche Presse Agentur), the "Neue Zürcher Zeitung" reports increased activity at Merapi on Java island (Indonesia) beginning on around 26 August. Merapi had its latest major eruption in mid-January 1997 when large pyroclastic flows occurred on the S and SW flanks of the volcano.
Minor ash emissions occurred on Popocatépetl in Mexico, on 12 and 26 August, the latest in a series of eruptions that began in late December 1994. These events did not cause any damage. So far the activity resembles much an eruptive sequence that occurred in the 1920's, with moderately strong pyroclastic eruptions and building of lava domes on the crater floor. However, the volcano is considered capable of extremely violent and potentially devastating eruptions.
Activity at Soufriere Hills is continuing with fluctuations in intensity. Larger pyroclastic flows formed again on 30 August. While updates on the volcanic activity are being provided twice a day by the Montserrat Volcano Observator, some decent Montserrat pages are presently available on various news sites. One example is at ABC News which has a dramatic photo of a pyroclastic flow victim found recently in Plymouth. The number of people killed by the eruption is thus 20 (including 10 killed and 9 missing in the 25 June 1997 pyroclastic flows). Spectacular bomb ejections occur presently at Bocca Nuova, one of the four summit craters of Etna, making visits to this crater highly dangerous. More detail is available on the Etna News Page.
7 August 1997
Montserrat's capital consumed by glowing avalanches from Soufriere Hills
Six weeks after the most catastrophic pyroclastic flows of the current eruption of Soufriere Hills (Montserrat), the capital of the island, Plymouth, has been largely destroyed by glowing avalanches. Major pyroclastic flows occurred on 5 and 7 August, setting many structures in the town aflame and entering the sea nearby. Plymouth lies on the W side of the volcano and had been evacuated, so there were no victims. Pyroclastic flows also descended in the Tar river valley on the E flank of the volcano and on its northern flank. While daily updates are provided on the Montserrat Volcano Observatory page, additional reports with photos are available at CNN (note that CNN reports and movies are in part removed after a few weeks) and The Montserrat Reporter.
All four summit craters of Etna are now in eruption, with Strombolian activity resuming at Voragine and Northeast Crater. More detail is available on the Etna News Page.
21 July 1997
Eruption at Pacaya
Guatemala's presently most active volcano Pacaya erupted vigorously on 13 July, prompting authorities to declare a state of alert. In spite of the eruption, some residents refused to leave their homes near the volcano. A brief news report (in Spanish) appeared in the Honduras newspaper "La Prensa de Honduras"; apparently there was no further significant activity during the succeeding days.
A very small quantity of lava overflowed the rim of SE Crater at Etna on the night of 19-20 July, the first lava to exit that crater since 1990. More detail is available on the Etna News Page.
18 July 1997
Etna in activity, recent eruptions reviewed
The Latest News Page is back to life, and so are some volcanoes in various parts of the world. While Etna is continuing its persistent summit activity at moderate levels (though spectacular to view from Catania), more dramatic eruptions have occurred recently at Soufriere Hills (Montserrat, Popocatépetl and Karangetang.
Details about current and recent activity at Etna are available on a special Etna News Page.
In its most devastating eruptive event so far, Soufriere Hills killed at least nine people and left about 20 others missing on 25 June. The disaster occurred when a large portion of the growing lava dome collapsed, generating large pyroclastic flows northwards. Other large pyroclastic flows were produced during the following days. The dome has since continued to grow, reaching almost 950 m in height as of 18 July. Detailed information is available on the Montserrat Volcano Observatory page.
Popocatépetl emitted a large ash column on 30 June, its largest eruption since 1925, and the first event in the current eruptive period (begun in 1994) which dropped ash on the capital of Mexico. A new lava dome has been growing in the summit crater since, its dimensions being similar to a dome which grew between March and July 1996.
Three people were killed on 8 June by glowing avalanches originating from Karangetang on Api Siau island, Indonesia. The volcano is almost constantly active and killed six people in 1992, still by glowing avalanches.
On Hawaii, lava from Kilauea's East Rift eruption has again entered the ocean on 12 July, and a large lava shield is developing near Pu'u 'O'o cone. More detail is available at the Hawaii Center for Volcanology (HCV).
Older "Latest News!" (January-June 1997
Older "Latest News!" (January-December 1996