Montserrat Today

For Monday November 24, 1997
Presented by the Information and Education Unit
of Montserrat's Emergency Department


The seismic activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano last week was at a low level with just a few hybrid, long period and volcano tectonic earthquakes being recorded for the week. However, rockfall signals were numerous and the majority of these appeared to be from the south west face of the new dome above Galways.

Visibility for most of last week was poor because of the rainy conditions but on the few moments of visibility it was clear that there was ash and steam venting from fumeroles on the dome. Ash levels in the central and northern zones were very low for most of the week.

Over the weekend there was a resurgence of hybrid earthquakes with several hundred of them being recorded. This shows that the dome is growing even though it can't be seen. Rockfalls, ash and steam venting continued all weekend. The hybrid earthquakes recorded overnight and into this morning (Monday) were significantly larger than off late and this could show that activity is begining to ramp up once again.

If hybrid earthquakes continue they could lead to pyroclastic flows from the dome.


The Royal Montserrat Police Force has introduced a pass system for entry into Salem and its environs. The pass does not allow residents to go beyond the barriers at Happy Hill and Old Towne (close to Isles Bay Plantations) and anyone found south of these barriers is liable to be arrested.

Only thirty passes will be issued so that no more than thirty people will be in the exclusion zone at any one time. Persons applying for passes must show evidence that they have a radio capable of tuning into ZJB for updates. During these visits persons will be allowed to take their property out of the exclusion zone but will not be allowed to take things in.

Maximum stay will be 4 hours per visit and if the sirens sound they must evacuate the zone immediately. Before issuing passes police authorities will check the level of activity at the volcano with the MVO who will give the go ahead only if the level of activity is low. Therefore entry is not a right but is at the discretion of authorities.


Last week several questions were asked in the British Houses of Parliament regarding the Montserrat situation and the plight of Montserratians in Britain.

One such question was asked by M.P. Mr Gapes who asked the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what assistance his Department is giving to evacuees from Montserrat who wish to (a) study, and (b) work in the U.K.

Mr Alan Howarth answered " Montserrat evacuees have full access to the education system. The Montserrat Emergency Awards Scheme has been set up to help with the fees and living expenses of higher education students. The evacuees are being helped by the Employment Service to find work and they may enter the Government's employment and training programme, providing they meet the eligibility criteria"(END)


HRH The Duke of York (Prince Andrew) left Montserrat on Saturday evening after spending 24 hours on island seeing for himself the current situation on island.

This was HRH's second visit for the year and this time he took the opportunity to look at shelters, emergency aid projects, schools, the hospital, the MVO and the Emergency Dept. He met with a wide cross section of the population including hundreds of shelterees and residents who turned up at the Brades playing fields to meet with him.


The shelter population continues to fall. As of this morning the total number of residents in shelter stands at 742.

The two largest shelters are the Salem Campus, MSS (162 persons) and the Brades Primary School (145 persons).

Altogether there are 32 buildings in the central and northern zones being used as shelters, this includes churches, schools, public buildings and purpose built shelters.

In a related matter, 50 families were presented with keys for new homes at Davey Hill on Friday afternoon. The families (numbering about 200 people) all previously lived in shelter. Several moved into their new homes over the weekend.

The housing survey currently being undertaken to see how many people are sheltering in private homes will be completed tomorrow. These figures will help government to plan future housing needs.


The Legislative Council will meet tomorrow morning at the Mc Chesney's Estate in Olveston. The Honourable Speaker of the House, Dr Howard A Fergus will call the meeting to order at 10 am.

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.