Date:         Wed, 21 Sep 1994 08:21:49 MST
Reply-To: VOLCANO 
Sender: VOLCANO 
From: Graeme Wheller 
Subject:      Rabaul eruption update 4
To: Multiple recipients of list VOLCANO 
Status: OR

The Australian Channel 9 television network tonight showed high quality
video of the Rabaul eruption, taken from a helicopter earlier today
(Tuesday, UTC+10) about 1.5 days since the eruption began. It showed
massive, grey-to-black, ash columns billowing vigorously at moderate to
high angles from Vulcan and Tavurvur cones on opposite sides of
Rabaul harbour. The vents on both cones appear to be in the order of
200 m wide, with the Vulcan vent extending down most of its harbourside
flank. The maximum height of the cloud was said to be about 20,000
metres, with blocks as big as cars and possibly houses falling into the
harbour. Lava was also reported to be flowing from Vulcan towards the
harbour. Black ash appeared to be falling over a wide area and views of
parts of Rabaul town showed buildings and vegetation blanketed by ash. Most
of the rest of New Britain island appeared to be unaffected.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation television news late last night
(Monday) reported that it was not clear whether four or five vents were
active. Two of the vents may be on the harbour floor. One vent is located
just off the end of the airstrip and the comment was made that the airstrip
may never be used again.

Media reports are now emphasizing the need to shelter and feed the evacuees
and international appeals have been launched by non-government aid agencies.
The town and surrounding villages have been evacuated but police teams
have been sent back to deal with suspected looters. Fears are also held
for a man apparently trapped in his house close to one of the vents, with
the house near collapse from the weight of ash. Mention was also made of
old people and children possibly trapped behind during the evacuation.
However, only two deaths have been reported so far.

Graeme Wheller
Consultant Geologist
Volcanex International Pty Ltd
Phone/Fax: domestic (002) 298057 international +61 02 298057