Government Information Service

Volcanic Activity and Goverment Response
As Of Tuesday, March 26, 1996

Government Information Service
Chief Minister's Office Fax:
P.O.Box 292
Plymouth, Montserrat
West Indies
Tel: (809) 491-2702/2711 Fax: -7229 Voice: -7227

Status of the Soufriere Hills Volcano & Contingencies

As activity continues at the Soufriere Hills Volcano, the Government of Montserrat and scientists at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory continue to maintain well focussed attention on the situation.

The status of activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano is as follows:

The Focus Is On Local Contingencies

Scientists of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory remain confident that adequate warning can be given if the volcano was to change its current pattern of activity. As a consequence, the Government of Montserrat continues to update contingency place for quick response to any threatening activity from the volcano. Our contingency plans enjoy the full support of the British Government and are focused on the possible need for relocation to the designated safe area in north Montserrat.

Off-Island Evacuation

The British Government has long adopted the forecast of Wadge and Isaacs supported by MVO that north Montserrat will remain safe in a worst case scenario from the Soufriere Hills Volcano. However, the U.K. Government is maintaining a contingency for an off-island evacuation exercise as an additional precaution.

Premature Relocation

A premature relocation to the north would only promote undesirable consequences such as a loss of confidence; economic and social hardship; and will only serve in unnecessarily keeping residents away from their homes. Scientific evidence supports the view that populated areas of Montserrat will remain safe over the short and medium term. Twenty-four hours per day monitoring of the volcano will be maintained.

Emergency Management Update

Contingencies include plans for staff training, simulation exercises and the establishment of casualty field stations along with an auxiliary hospital in the north. The activities are being supported by the Pan American Health Organisation, (PAHO) and health authorities in the French Department of Guadeloupe. A return visit of Guadeloupe officials is expected to assist with plans in the unlikely event of volcano related casualties.
Public Works
Site preparation for the establishment of emergency accommodation in the north continues. An auxiliary power plant has already been established. Public Works continues to be vigilant in the maintenance of government vehicles, stand-by generators, etc...
The Salem Secondary and Primary schools are being maintained as the main holding areas for children during any possible relocation exercise. Transportation for children is adequate.
Departmental contingencies include planning and securing accommodation for the entire Civil Service in north Montserrat when and if that becomes necessary.
The police in collaboration with Radio Montserrat are preparing for a full scale siren test. There are two possible siren signals:
  1. To indicate tuning to ZJB for details (short blast)
  2. For an immediate relocation (continuous siren)
Plans are in place to offer assistance for moving livestock during a phased exercise. This is contingent on the owner making private arrangements to secure land in the north since the government does not posses any land in that area.
The British Government has set aside funds to support any possible relocation to the north. The monies are under the control of the Ministry of Finance. The operations of the MVO and geriatric units are included in sums to be disbursed to the end of 1996.
Storage of diesel for emergency transport and generators have been upgraded. A further upgrade is planned pending approval of additional funds.

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