Government Information Service

The EOC Today
For Tuesday September 23, 1997
A Presentation Of The Government Information Services
In Conjunction With The MVO.


Yesterday evening and early this morning there were explosive eruptions at the Soufriere Hills Volcano. There was some noise associated with these explosions in the form of a loud roar. Incandescent material was clearly visible after both explosions and pyroclastic flow material was observed on the Farrel's plain and the Gages Valley reaching as far as Dyers.

Ash clouds went as high as 10,000 feet after the explosions and there were periods of very vigorous ash venting for some time afterwards. There were also periods of thundering and lightning in the ash cloud.

It is thought by MVO scientists that the volcano is now in an explosive phase similar to the one in early August. Further explosions and pyroclastic flows are likely and these can easily reach the Belham Valley. Everyone living close to the valley is being urged to leave.

During explosive events, hard hats should be worn or better still people should seek shelter inside sturdy buildings, in addition everyone is being urged to wear their dust masks as conditions are currently very ashy.


Britain's Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Sir Kenneth Calman is currently on island heading a team of health experts looking at the health system on Montserrat and the health hazards associated with the volcano. At a press conference held this morning, Sir Kenneth reported that he was here at the request of Montserrat's Chief Minister and that he and his team would be making comprehensive recommendations on the health issues involved.

Questioned about the dangers of ash, Sir Kenneth and a member of his team Dr Peter Baxter, one of the world's most famous experts in his field, reported that long term exposure to high levels of ash could lead to silicosis (a disease normally associated with miners). The experts are now particularly worried about children's exposure to high levels of ash.

The EOC, the MVO and the Health Education Unit have over the last twelve months carried out extensive education campaigns about the dangers of ash amongst school children and members of the general public.


Business leaders from Salem and the central zone areas met yesterday evening with a team from the EOC, the MVO, the Physical Planning Unit, the Aid Management Office (AMO) and with the Hon. Chief Minister David S. Brandt and H.E. Anthony Abbott, Montserrat's new Governor.

The meeting, attended by over 60 persons, was organised to look at the moving of business places from the exclusion zone south of Nantes River especially those in the Salem area and the long term future of businesses currently situated in the new central zone.

The Physical Planning Unit discussed land availability for business in the northern zone, the AMO discussed assistance for storage by using containers, the EOC intoduced the new risk map and the head scientist of the MVO discussed current risks. There were also presentations from the Chief Minister and the Governor and representatives from the Montserrat Chamber of Commerce and industry and the National Development Foundation outlined plans.


It is reported that the National Development Foundation (NDF) is organising a series of meetings over the next week with owners and operators of small businessses. On Wednesday the meeting will be with those involved in agricultural enterprises in any shape or form, on Thursday with all those involved in restaurant, food services and bar businesses and on Monday next with all other types of business. The meetings will look at relocation, new sites, training, small business financing and a wide range of other topics.


Over the weekend there was a fire in Cudjoe Head which left the elderly occupant (a Mr Blake) trapped. The house, close to the Cavalla Hill Church was burning fiercely when spotted by neighbours. They called the Fire Brigade & then attempted to put out the fire by community effort. When it was realised that the occupant was trapped inside, a neighbour Mr Steve Deane broke into the house and risking his own life carried Mr Blake to safety. Neighbours suceeded in containing the fire until the Fire Brigade arrived on the scene.


With funding provided by Christian Aid through the Montserrat Christian Council, the National Youth Council has been able to assist 175 single parents families which represents over 400 children between the ages of newborn to 17 years as part of its emergency assistance project.

Families who had registered for assistance under the NYC Single Parents Project were provided with food packs, toiletries and baby supplies. Efforts are underway to assist other families who have registered, later this week.

The basic goal of the project is to provide some measure of relief from the financial hardship brought about by volcanic activities on one of the most vulnerable groups in the community.


More telephone numbers & information tomorrow................

The EOC Information Unit, St Johns, Montserrat, West Indies.
Tel 664 491 7166 Fax 664 491 2474 E Mail:
Richard Aspin, Information Co-ordinator.

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