Government Information Service

The EOC Today
For Monday October 13, 1997
A Presentation Of The Government Information Services
In Conjunction With The MVO.


The explosive eruptions at the Soufriere Hills Volcano have continued over the weekend. The 49th explosion in the current sequence of events occurred at 10.24 pm last night and the 50th just after 10 am this morning.

The associated pyroclastic flows from last nights event were incandescent and the surges moved down most flanks of the volcano with distinct flows in Gages to the base of St Georges Hill, in Tyers Ghaut to the Dyers area and also down Tuitt's Ghaut.

Due to the low cloud, the height of the resulting ash eruption column could not be estimated but the ash was carried out to sea. The event this morning was very similar but the ash went westwards over Plymouth and St Georges Hill.

Seismic activity has been generally low although a few hybrid and volcano tectonic earthquakes have been recorded. In addition there is some tremor measured after each explosion - this is associated with ash and steam venting.

Heavy overnight rain has washed away much of the ash that has been deposited throughout the island over the past few weeks.


The following press release was published yesterday by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO):-

"Three weeks after huge pyroclastic flows devastated the airport and several villages in the southern part of this tropical island, the Soufriere Hills Volcano continues to explode spectacularly twice a day. Each explosion sends rock and ash up to 15,000 to 25,000 feet into the air. Winds carry the ash over the northern part of Montserrat and also towards other nearby islands. Air traffic in the region is being affected by the ash clouds as they drift away from Montserrat

During the past 3 weeks, ash fall has become a regular part of daily life for those even in the far north of Montserrat, largely unaffected during activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano thus far. Even if the volcano doesn't explode, the dry conditions mean that ash is in the air. Ash masks are worn routinely. Larger explosions also bring fallout of small rocks and pumice over some parts of the island.

Scientists monitoring the volcano have no means of predicting explosions, although information currently being collected should lead to a better understanding of these events in the future. It is anticipated that the explosions will continue for some time, but there are no indications that the explosions will be very much bigger than they have been to date.

The southern part of Montserrat, including its capital has been evacuated for 18 months or so and the current high level of activity has led to the evacuation of the second town, Salem, for the first time during the volcanic crisis. An eruption large enough to severely affect the northern part of the island is thought by scientists monitoring the volcano to be very unlikely." (END)


The International Development Committee has issued the following press release in London:-

The International Development Committee has decided to undertake an inquiry into the current situation in Montserrat. The committee will consider the following points:

* development aid to the island since the hurricane of 1989, including the role of ODA/DFID officials based in the Caribbean;

* the threat to the island from the volcano in the Soufriere Hills, including the scientific evaluation of volcanic activity and the flow of information to the United Kingdom Government, the island authorities, and the islanders themselves;

* the planning undertaken by the UK Government and the island authorities to deal with a possible emergency since the resumption of volcanic activity in 1995;

* the current proposals for the evacuation of the island, including an explanation of how necessary such an evacuation is, how the proposed sums offered in relocation costs were calculated, why alternative proposals from the islanders were rejected, and details of proposals to help neighbouring islands which have taken refugees and to those Montserratians who have already left;

* the effect of current events in Montserrat on the politics, economies and development needs of the region;

* the Governments long term plans for Montserrrat, including the possible development of the north of the island a plans for a possible return to the island once the volcanic activity has subsided;

The committee plans to take oral evidence from the Rt. Hon. Clare Short MP, Secretary of State for International Development on Tuesday 14, October 1997 at at 10.30 am in the House of Commons". (END)

The membership of the committee is as follows:

Mr Bowen Wells (chairman) Conservative MP for Hertford & Stafford, Mr Dennis Canavan Labour MP for Falkirk West, Ann Clwyd Labour MP for Cynon Valley, Barbara Follert Labour MP for Stevenage, Mr bernie Grant Labour MP for Tottenham, Mr Piara S. Khabra Labour MP for Ealing Southall, Oona King Labour MP for Bethnal Green & Bow, Tess Kingham Labour MP for Gloucester, Mr Andrew Robathan Conservative MP for Blaby, Mr Andrew Rowe Conservative MP for Faversham & Kent Mid and Dr Jenny Tonge Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park. The clerk of the committee is mr Azad Yusef.

Several members of the committee will be visiting Montserrat on Thursday 16th October and a programme has been developed for them. Apart from overflights of the volcano there will be visits to the EOC, emergency housing sites, visits to shelters and the emergency jetty, a visit to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, meetings with the Governor, H.E. Anthony Abbott, the Chief Minister Hon David S. Brandt and former Chief Ministers Reuben T. Meade and Bertrand B. Osborne.

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.

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