Government Information Service

The EOC Today
For Friday October 31, 1997
A Presentation Of The Government Information Services
In Conjunction With The MVO.


THE VOLCANIC EXPLANATION:

Over the last 24 hours the activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano has been dominated by swarms of hybrid earthquakes and rockfalls from the dome.

The dome continues to grow rapidly and the N.E. face is now very unstable. Material coming from this face is falling into the Tuitt's Ghaut area and is also threatening to impact Mosquito Ghaut.

If and when these rockfalls lead to full pyroclastic flows both of these ghauts will be impacted which means that any material could finish up in the Belham River Valley. Some fresh material has also been seen in the Galways area.

Everyone is urged to stay clear of the exclusion zone completely.

THE VOLCANO THIS WEEK:

Note; this is a new feature and will be published every Friday and will review the volcanic activity for the week.

As October draws to a close, new dome growth and continued hybrid earthquake swarms have dominated the activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano.

The explosions of earlier in the month left a huge crater at the summit of the volcano some 300 metres across. As soon as the explosive phase drew to a close, dome growth commenced once again and this time the new dome started to grow from the inside of the crater.

The new dome was clearly visible for several days during this week and it comprises very dark, stubby, spiney material. This dome is very unstable and rockfalls continue from its north east flank into the Tuitt's Ghaut area. It is expected that it will collapse shortly as pyroclastic flows into this ghaut.

The height of the dome was calculated this week at being over 3000 feet above sea level and growing very quickly. At one stage the extrusion rate was over 8 cubic metres per second but this has slowed down a little as the week progressed.

The continued hybrid earthquake swarms indicate movement of magma and rapid dome growth. The swarms, when they occur, often last for several hours.

The ash monitoring project continues with ash levels being taken on a daily basis at Olveston, Woodlands, St. Peters and Mongo Hill - this week ash levels have been very low.

Earlier in the week there was evidence of mud flows in several ghauts in the exclusion zone following heavy rains and everyone is being urged to keep clear of all ghauts and to keep out of the exclusion zone completely.

GOVERNMENT HOUSE PRESS RELEASE:

The following press release from Government House was released late yesterday:

The Secretary of State for Education and Employment in Britain Rt Hon David Blunkett, M.P. has announced the creation of a Montserrat Emergency Awards Scheme. The scheme will enable Montserratians to enter university under the same financial conditions as home students. Montserratians in the U.K. are already treated in the same way as home students for primary, secondary and further education (to the age of 18).

The scheme will begin immediately and will be administered by the British Council. Under the new scheme a fee averaging 4,400 per annum will be offered. It is expected that most if not all British Universities and Colleges will accept Montserratians on this basis, subject to their normal admission requirements. In addition, Montserratians will receive a grant for maintenance of 3,500 per year. (END)

EOC / ESU RENAMED:

The following is the text of a press release from Government House:

As a step towards inproving Montserrat's emergency response capability it has been decided to reorganise the Emergency Operations Centre and the Emergency Support Unit to create a new Emergency Department. From November 1st this department will be officially known as the Emergency Department.

The new department will be made up of four units; Operations and Logistics, Information & Education, Administration and there are plans for an Aid Management Office (AMO) inplant. The Emergency Department will be headed by Mr Franklyn Michael, currently Permanent Secretary to the Emergency Operations Centre.

The Emergency Department will be responsible for preparing and executing contingency plans, co-ordinating the inputs of other agencies and informing the public of developments connected with the management of the volcanic crisis and disaster preparedness. (END)

BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS ANSWER:

On Tuesday of this week a question was asked in the British House of Commons about the steps being taken to ensure that adequate housing was available for persons who have evacuated to Britain from Montserrat. The answer:

"We are offering a grant to local housing authorities who provide housing accommodation for Montserratian evacuees arriving in Britain under the Assisted Passage Scheme.1,500 would be paid to for each unit of accommodation provided for a Montserratian household which has been placed with an authority under the resettlement arrangements which have been established by the Home Office. The grant is in recognition of the fact that local authorities are being asked to accept responsibility for accommodating people who would not otherwise have applied to them for housing. The grant will ensure that evacuees who have nowhere to stay can be re-settled as quickly as possible by helping authorities to bring on stream vacant property, although this may not be in an area preferred by the evacuee. The grant sheme has been drawn up after consultation with the Local Government Association.

The grant will be a special grant under the Local Government Finance Act 1988. We will submit a report for the House's approval early next year. The Department has written today to Chief Executives and Chief Housing Officers setting out the terms of the grant scheme and arrangements for making claims. Copies of the letter have been deposited in the Library.

A grant will be offered on a similar basis by the Housing Corporation to registered social landlords who independently offer to provide accommodation for evacuees under the resettlements arrangements.

(Answer by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions).

BEACH SAND:

The Ministry of Agriculture is reminding everyone that it is an offence to remove beach sand from any beach in Montserrat. The Ministry have put in place a system where sand and quarry products can be imported by the private sector and anyone requiring these products is urged to liaise with the private sector.

FERRY SERVICE:

There will now be two ferries sharing the service between Montserrat and Antigua.

Midweek, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays the French Antilles Express (or its sister ship) will operate the service and on Friday, Saturday and Monday the MV DeLuxe will operate the service. There will be no service on Sundays.

Departure time from Montserrat is 8 am each day and from Antigua 4 pm each day. The Monday morning sailing at 6.30 am from Antigua to Montserrat will take place on Monday morning November 3rd.

Passengers are advised that they should book in advance on the days that the MV DeLuxe is operating as seats are limited. Bookings can be made at M.A.S. at 664 491 2533.

Return fares are EC$150 and EC$75 for the weekend special. The check in time is one hour before departure.

CORRECTION FROM YESTERDAY:

Rememberence Day is on Sunday November 9th at 7.45 am at Mc Chesney's Estate the site of the office of the Governor.

SPECIAL NOTE:

With the impending name change of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to the Emergency Department, the EOC Today will be renamed "Montserrat Today" from Monday November 3rd 1997.

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

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