Montserrat Today

For Friday December 19, 1997
Presented by the Information and Education Unit
of Montserrat's Emergency Department


The activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano has been at a slightly higher level over the last 24 hours with more rockfall signals being recorded. In addition there has been an increase in hybrid earthquakes over the same reporting period.

The active growth area is still above the Galways sector of the dome and this has produced a persisting plume of ash and steam. Ash fell in most parts of the central zone overnight but ask levels in the northern zone remain low. There have been reports of strong smells of sulphur throughout the central zone.

A GPS survey of Harris Lookout, Windy Hill, Hermitage, Long Ground and Lees Yard was completed yesterday and results will be announced later.


Prof. Steve Sparks of Bristol University and the BGS arrived on island yeterday to take over as Chief Scientist at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO).

Dr Gill Norton remains as Deputy Chief Scientist and both will continue to serve in their posts into the New Year.


Radio Montserrat (ZJB) is currently carrying out test broadcasts on 91.9 FM in an attempt to reach all areas of the central zone. This new frequency is in addition to 95.5 FM which is currently being used. In addition some remedial work is being done to allow the 92.3 FM signal also to be heard.

With these three test broadcast FM bands it is hoped that ZJB will be heard all over Montserrat as a vital part of the emergency information service. ZJB broadcasts 24 hours per day.


The siteworks at Brades for the port-a-cabin government headquarters are progressing nicely. The cabins will be placed on site in the New Year and the entire complex will be ready for occupation by February month end.

The new complex will house all government departments with the exception of the Emergency Department which will remain in St Johns.


The Royal Montserrat Defence Force is constucting three units for special needs persons. The units are being pre-fabricated at Defence Force HQ and will be place on a site at Geralds not far from the hospital.

In related news, all shelter units being constructed at Davey Hill and Manjack are finished and have been handed over to the Emergency Dept. These units will be used to free up space in existing church shelters.


The Emerald Community Singers, Montserrat's longest serving community performing group will present their Christmas concert "Peace on Earth, Joy to the World" this weekend.

The group now in its 27th year will perform on Saturday and Sunday at the St John's Anglican Church at 7 pm both nights. Admission is $10 and this event kicks off Montserrat's Christmas programme for 1997.


(continued from yesterday)

(33) We recommend that it be made clear that the current provision for Montserratians in the U.K. will last for as long as volcanic activity continues in Montserrat. Montserratians in the U.K. who wish to remain after volcanic activity has ended should be given the permanent right to live and work here.

(34) We are not in a position to comment on the viability of the island nor the possibilities for sustainable development. Any plan must, however take account of the continuing dangers posed by the activity of the volcano. The north of Montserrat is not perfectly safe, merely significantly safer than elsewhere on the island. At present all planning and committment of funds must take account of the possibility that the north itself might have to be evacuated.

(35) The sustainable development plan will need to take a realistic look at the prospects for the economy of the north. The plan should propose developments which can maintain a community on the island appropriate to current circumstances, in other words development which is genuinely sustainable. We have particular concerns at the prospects of employment and food production in the north. (more on Monday)

More information next week...................................

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.