Government Information Service / Media Centre

Search and Rescue Missions Follow Major Pyroclastic Flows
from the Soufriere Hills Volcano
Thursday, June 26, 1997

Government Information Service
Chief Minister's Office
Old Towne, Montserrat
West Indies
Tel: (664) 491-2702 Fax: -2711

Press Release

Scientist at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) have warned of an increased in volcano activity again ( Thursday June 26th ) with the possibility of serious pyroclastic flows.

This means that the flanks of the volcano, especially all the entire central corridor and the north - eastern side, remain dangerous and the authorities are advising people not to enter the area.

This statement follows the major pyroclastic flow activity on Wednesday June 25th 1997, which travelled down Mosquito Ghaut and into the Paradise River valley and caused severe damage to villages of Dyer's, Harris, Bethel, Spanish Pointe, Trants, Farms and parts of Brambles Village.

There has been considerable destruction of buildings including houses in the area of the flows which almost reached the WH B ramble Airport. A assessment of the situation at the airport is expected later today.

Rescue teams are today undertaking house to house searches in the areas affected by the ash - surges of yesterday 25th June 1997. Up until late last evening about seventeen persons were reported unaccounted for by emergency management officials. The missing persons were believed to be mainly farmers and other persons who have been re - entering the designated unsafe zone against the advise of the scientist and civilian authorities.

The Royal Dutch Navy, and French authorities have added their helicopter services to the search and rescue operation. The West Indies Guard Ship, HMS Liverpool is sailing at full speed to the island.

Emergency response, yesterday, resulted in the air - lifting of some 12 inhabitants from the affected communities in the East including Harris' and Tuitt's where people managed to move to high ground to await assistance from the helicopter which is assigned principally to the MVO to undertake volcano monitoring exercise.

At least four persons were hospitalized with mainly burn injuries while several others were treated and discharged by the casualty unit in St John's, Montserrat.

Pyroclastic Flows consist of super-heated air, gases, and ash which travelled at very high speeds down the flanks of the volcano toward the sea.

Scientists have warned that ash from the volcano will remain dangerously hot for sometime and have advised residents that they can suffer serious burns if they get too close to these super - heated ash deposits.

The consensus of scientists at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) is that northern part of Montserrat remains safe from any major impact from continuing volcano activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano.

Government Information Service