Montserrat Today

For Wednesday December 03, 1997
Presented by the Information and Education Unit
of Montserrat's Emergency Department


Seismicity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano has generally been at a low level for the last 24 hours. There were some long period and hybrid earthquakes and over 100 rockfall signals.

The southern flank of the dome has been glowing at night showing that this is the area of growth at the moment. It is thought however, that the dome is growing more slowly than in the past.

Dust levels in the central and northern zones over the past 24 hours were low.


Seven farmers have started to work the 6 acre site at Blakes designated for farming purposes. Recently bulldozers cleared the area but left some trees standing to act as wind breaks and to prevent erosion. Farmers are now fencing the area.

It is hoped eventually that more land will be available for cultivation at the site and that the number of farmers will increase to twelve.


The final public forum to discuss the five year development plan for Montserrat is taking place this morning at Mc Chesney's Estate.

The plan has been drawn up after public consultation by the Government of Montserrat. Business leaders, NGO's, government officials, and residents have made inputs to the plan at a series of public forums held over the past few weeks.


Following meetings in Guadeloupe yesterday to look at emergency evacuation plans for Montserrat if the need ever arrises, authorities in the French island announced that they will hold a joint simulation exercise in communications before year end.

Montserrat officials including H.E. The Governor, Mr Anthony Abbott, the Chief Minister, Hon David S. Brandt, police and defence force officials as well as representatives of the Emergency Dept met with their French counterparts to discuss what is known as Operation Exodus.

Exodus sets out the plans for an evacuation of Montserrat if the volcanic situation makes life untenable. It is hoped that it will never have to be used but in the interest of good disaster planning it is thought to be necessary to develop such a plan.

Guadeloupe will play an integral role in the plan as a staging post for Montserratians.


The Labour Department has instituted a job placement service. Unemployed residents are invited to register at the Labour Department office at Geralds (Tel 664 491 4010) and then the department will attempt to find them positions.

A total of eight persons have registered to date and the department was able to place seven of these into jobs. Four have entered the private sector and three into government service.

One of the findings of the scheme is that there is a demand for computer literate employees and in the absence of a functioning Technical College who used to carry out this training, several government departments are negotiating with one another to try and institute a training programme in this area.


The British consultants currently on island to make recommendations on the site of a future airport for Montserrat met with the general public earlier this week.

At a public meeting in Woodlands they explained that three possible sites have been identified; Thatch Valley (beyond the Silver Hills), Blakes, and Geralds.

The consultants are meeting with as wide a range of Montserratians as possible before making their final recommendation to the UK government.


(continued from yesterday)

(5) The north of Montserrat, though at present relatively safe, could rapidly become more dangerous. All planning in both short and long term in Montserrat must take into account of the fact that there is a possibility, given certain scenarios, that the north also would have to be evacuated.

(6) This sort of disagreement (on the appointment of a programme manager for healthcare) is all too typical of recent events in Montserrat. We presume that Sir Kenneth Calman made his recommendation advisedly, no doubt hoping that the programme manager would have the power to take prompt and effective action without political interference. We recommend that the GOM accept the recommendation of the Calman Report on the appointment of a programme manager and end this unacceptable delay.

(7) We were told when at the Emergency Operations Centre in Montserrat, that if there were an emergency evacuation Montserratians would not know what to do.

(8) We recommend that a document making clear what to do in the event of such an evacuation be distributed as a matter of urgency to all Montserratians on the island. Similarly, not only HMG and the GOM but all neighbouring islands should know of the evacuation plan. We recommend that there be a single evacuation plan providing for a coordinated regional response.

(9) We conclude that in the unlikely event of a serious explosion affecting the north it could well be impossible at present to evacuate the population in time. This is particularly true for those vulnerable groups mentioned earlier. We recommend that a simulated exercise take place to ensure that the current evacuation plan is adequate. (to be continued)

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.