Government Information Service

The EOC Today
For Wednesday October 08, 1997
A Presentation Of The Government Information Services
In Conjunction With The MVO.


Since yesterday afternoon there has been one more explosion from the Soufriere Hills Volcano and this occurred at a few minutes before 4 am this morning.

This explosion was number 41 in the current sequence of events which started on September 22nd. It is estimated that ash from this event and the resulting pyroclastic flow rose to a height of around 15,000 feet. Because of darkness it was not too clear in which direction the pyroclastic flow went, but there was light ash fall in Salem, Old Towne, Olveston, Woodlands and the St Peters areas.

At about midnight last night, scientists observed some incandescent glowing on the dome from Friths. In addition a roaring sound could be heard from the volcano which coincided with an increase in the tremor signals being recorded at the MVO at the time. Other than this there has been little in the way of seismic signals recorded.

Further explosions are expected and these can lead to pyroclastic flows going in several directions including the Belham River Valley, all residents of areas close to this have been evacuated and are urged not to return home as the areas are very dangerous.


Mr Charles Farrell of Harris' who suffered severe burns to his hands and feet in the pyroclastic flows of June 25th has returned to the island from Martinique's burns unit. Mr Farrell who also suffered lung damage when he swallowed hot ash was accompanied back to Montserrat by a specialist at the Martinique burns unit, Dr Tixier.

In a short thank you ceremony at Government House, broadcast to the nation by ZJB, yesterday both the Governor H.E. Mr Anthony Abbott and the Minister of Health Hon. Adaline Tuitt thanked Dr Tixier and the French authorities in Martinique for their help and assistance.

Dr Tixier, during his short visit, also trained local nurses at the St Johns hospital in the dressing and treatment of Mr Farrell's injuries as he will have to attend the hospital for some weeks as an outpatient. Dr Tixier reiterated that the Martinique health authorities were ready to assist Montserrat in a number of ways during the volcanic crisis.


Montserrat's new Governor H.E. Mr Anthony Abbott and Mrs Abbott visited the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and the Emergency Services Unit (ESU) in St Johns yesterday afternoon as part of a familiarisation tour of the various departments working in the volcanic crisis. They toured the facility asking questions of the Permanent Secretary, Emergency Operations Mr Franklyn Michael and staff about the role and function of the units.

Mr Abbott has already visited the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) and met with scientists and staff at that institution which is based on Mongo Hill.


Rumours circulating Montserrat yesterday that emanated from electronic mail saying that the island was to be totally evacuated immediately have been denied. Officials of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) said that as plans for Operation Exodus are being fine-tuned this might have led to the rumours.

Operation Exodus is a plan for the total evacuation of the island ONLY IF THE SITUATION DETERIORATES ENOUGH TO MAKE LIFE ON MONTSERRAT UNTENABLE. The EOC official said that forward planning for all contingencies is good common sense and that aspects of the plan will be made public in due course.


Continuing with the recommendations by the British health committee chaired by Sir Kenneth Calman which we started yesterday (the first four were published yesterday):

(5) People with special needs and their families who have registered under the voluntary evacuation scheme should be assessed for their health needs at a central reception centre in the U.K. The NHS in the north-east of England could provide this facility. Close liaison with the Montserrat Voluntary Evacuation Office is needed. Arrangements should be put in hand as soon as possible;

(6) Training and professional development will be needed and should be assessed as the health action plan is implemented;

(7) Work to upgrade the temporary hospital should be kept on schedule;

(8) To ensure service provision in the short term, an accident and emergency specialist with experience in anaesthetics should be provided. The specialist will work as Senior Medial Officer (SMO) for secondary level care. The recruitment should begin at once.

(9) Due to the limited availability of support services and inadequate infrastructure, acute medical and surgical emergencies should be established on the island and transferred to health services of neighbouring islands for definitive treatment;

(10) In the short term, the Senior Medical Officer should also assist with the formulation and implementation of health disaster plans and procedures appropriate for the needs of the island. (End of the section of the report entitled " A new health care system for Montserrat")


At this time of year many property owners living overseas start planning their winter trips to Montserrat. Everyone is urged to check if they can access their property BEFORE starting to make travel arrangements. Many properties are inaccessible as they are in the exclusion zone. Property owners should check with their agent or real estate company to see if their property can be reached.

As a general guide the exclusion zone is everything south of a line from Nantes River (on the northern outskirts of Salem) to Pelican Ghaut in the east (on the new road from the old airport to St Johns). No property in the exclusion zone can be lived in or accessed. There is a 6 pm to 6 am curfew in the entire exclusion zone.

The following is the British Government's Travel Advisory for those persons thinking of coming to Montserrat (dated Sept 17th 1997):

(1) In view of the continuing volcanic activity in Montserrat and the closure of the airport, holiday makers are advised to avoid travel to the island.

(2) The southern part of the island, from Nantes River in the west to the airport in the east, is extremely dangerous and access is forbidden. The capital Plymouth, and Salem are located within the exclusion zone. As the volcano has now entered a new and potentially more dangerous phase of activity, areas as far north as Woodlands are considered vulnerable. As a result a transition or buffer zone has been created and is known as the "Central Zone". This zone covers an area from Nantes River to Lawyers Ghaut (in the vicinity of Palm Loop). Residents and businesses in the central zone are asked to remain vigilant and be prepared to move north at short notice.

(3) The last remaining hotel, The Vue Pointe has closed and accommodation on island is difficult to find. Areas as far north as St Johns are experiencing occasional ashfalls and everybody is advised to carry ash masks at all times.

(4) The airport remains closed and most visitors travel to the island via ferry from Antigua (daily departures except Sundays).

(5) Any visitor should obtain a copy of the latest edition of the current risk map on arrival and have a portable radio tuned to ZJB Radio (95.5 FM) for volcanic reports and latest updates. (END)

More 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.

Government Information Service