Montserrat Today

For Tuesday November 04, 1997
Presented by the Information and Education Unit
of Montserrat's Emergency Department


Hybrid earthquakes continue to dominate the activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano. The swarm which started on November 2nd is continuing and is now over 48 hours old, with just one brief stoppage for about an hour very early this morning.

The trend of increasing lengths of hybrid swarms as shown over the last few days continues and the large rockfalls and pyroclastic flows are likely to continue.

The dome is very unstable and is likely to shed more material in the form of pyroclastic flows which could impact many of the ghauts in the exclusion zone.

Further explosions are possible and these could impact areas such as Salem, Friths and Old Towne which should be totally evacuated.


The Chief Minister of Montserrat Mr David S. Brandt and the Governor, H.E. Mr Anthony Abbott went on air last night to appeal to all residents who are in the exclusion zone to come out immediately.

They stated that complacency had set in at a time when the volcanic activity had not decreased, in fact the activity was as high as ever and everyone should leave.

The check points will close, it was stated, from 6 pm on Thursday evening November 6th and after this time no one will be allowed to enter the exclusion zone.


The current shortage of cooking gas should soon be over.

In Nevis today, 200 of the 100 pound cylinders and 400 of the 20 pound cylinders are being filled. As soon as the filling is completed they will be shipped to Montserrat on the motor vessel "Endeavour" which is already in Nevis.

Long term plans are being made to have a 6000 gallon pressure vessel on wheels to be shipped to Montserrat from Nevis full of LPG so that bottles can be filled on island. In addition a road tanker can be made available to Montserrat so that large users of gas such as bakeries, shelters and the hospital can be filled on site.

It is hoped that these new arrangements will produce a reliable supply of LPG for the island.

Meantime, residents from the northern and central zones are being urged to return their empty bottles tomorrow (Weds) to Delta at the old NOSCA complex for sending to Nevis for filling. This will guarantee a supply of gas in the next shipment.


At a press conference yesterday, the Chief Minister of Montserrat David S. Brandt outlined some of the successes of his recent trip to Britain. Mr Brandt reported that five new projects for funding are being reviewed this week and are likely to be approved and he also reported that all the "ballplayers" in the Montserrat volcanic response working in Britain will report to British Ministers every two weeks.

Mr Brandt feels that the new British Government is keen to work with their Montserrat counterparts to develop the island and to cut out some of the delays seen in the past.


A recent question as to the Development of Montserrat was given a written answer in the British House of Commons recently.

The question posed by MP Mr Goodlad asked " What are the Secretary of State's current plans for the development of Montserrat and if she will make a statement?"

The answer by Secretary of State Clare Short was given on October 30th and is as follows:

"We have always made clear that we are committed to maintaining a viable community in the north of the island as long as it is safe for people to live there.

This assurance means that essential facilities including health care, education, utilities and internal & external communications will be available for Montserratians who wish to remain on the island.

As we have agreed with the Government of Montserrat, the next major step is the preparation and agreement, in consultation with the people of Montserrat, of a long term sustainable development plan for the island to provide the level of services and infrastructure appropriate to the needs of the community. Work on the preparation of the plan is underway and is expected to be completed early in the New Year." (END)


The British Foreign Office last week issued the following travel advice for those persons travelling to Montserrat.

(1) We advise against all but essential travel to Montserrat in view of the continuing volcanic activity.

(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 to be vulnerable. As a result a "buffer zone" has been created which covers the area from Nantes River in the south to Lawyers River (Palm Loop) in the north. Residents and businesses in the area are asked to remain vigilant and be prepared to move at short notice.

(3) The last remaining hotel, The Vue Pointe, has closed and accommodation on the island is difficult to find. Areas as far north as St Johns are experiencing occasional ash falls and everybody is advised to carry ash masks at all times. Prolonged high level exposure to ash can lead to serious health problems.

(4) The airport remains closed and most visitors to the island travel by the daily ferry service from Antigua. Travellers should check with Carib World Travel in Antigua (Tel: 460 6101) for the latest information and sailing times.

(5) Visitors should listen carefully to ZJB Radio (FM 95.5) for volcanic reports which are broadcast twice a day at 07.30 and 19.30 hours local time, and at more frequent intervals during increased periods of activity. Visitors should obtain a copy of the volcanic risk map from the Emergency Dept (Tel 491 7166) which provides detailed and regularly updated guidance on access permitted to various areas of the island.

More information tomorrow.................................

Presented by the Information & Education Unit, Emergency Dept
St Johns Village, Montserrat, Leeward Islands, West Indies.
Tel 664 491 7166, Fax 664 491 2474, E Mail:
Richard Aspin, Unit Co-ordinator.