Montserrat Today

For Monday January 05, 1998
Presented by the Information and Education Unit
of Montserrat's Emergency Department



The activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano over the past weekend has been described as moderate. There have been a number of hybrid and long period earthquakes and some rockfall activity.

A new dome is growing following the Boxing Day collapse and this is happening in a cyclic pattern about every 6 to 8 hours. Because of the rainy conditions no views of the dome were possible over the weekend, however the rain has helped to keep the ash deposits down and air quality is very good at the moment throughout the central and northern zones.


The dome collapse in the early hours of Boxing Day which caused approx 20 million cubic metres of material to fall off the dome has caused widespread damage to the south of the island.

An area from Gingoes to O'Garro's has been totally buried under the flows obliterating all the settlements in this section of the island, including the village of St Patrick's.

The areas of Trials and Fairfield have also been badly affected by the Boxing Day event. In Trials, most buildings have been damaged by either fire or roof collapse, however most of the structures are still standing. In Fairfield, the damage is mainly due to roof collapse due to the weight of the ash. There has also been some damage in the Kinsale area.

The front of the debris flow in the vicinity of the mouth of the White River valley is over 30 metres high and yeterday, some 10 days after the event, the temperature of the flow was still in the region of 230 degrees centigrade at just 30 cms below the surface. The fan at the mouth of the White River is now approx 1.5 kms wide.

All the affected areas were evacuated at the time of the collapse and all the areas were in the exclusion zone. The collapse has been the largest to date from the Soufriere Hills Volcano's dome. It is estimated however, that some 80 million cubic metres of material is still left standing in the dome and further collapses are likely.


Government House has announced that Major Joseph Lynch the retiring Commanding Officer of the Royal Montserrat Defence Force (RMDF) has been awarded the MBE by Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II in the New Years Honours List.

Major Lynch has been awarded the MBE following his service to the RMDF for 37 years up to his retirement on December 31st 1997. He has worked tirelessly as the Commanding Officer since 1993 and his nomination is for outstanding service to the Community in Montserrat.


The recent scientific report "Assessment of Volcanic Risk on Montserrat" has been released in Montserrat. Copies are available to Montserratians at Government House and at the Public Library.

The report is extremely lengthy but does contain an Executive Summary containing 8 major points. Over the next few days this newsletter will publish these 8 major points.

(1) At a meeting in Antigua, 2 to 5 December 1997, a scientific reappraisal of the Soufriere Hills eruption and its hazards was made for the Governments of Montserrat and the UK. The findings of that meeting have been used to under- take a preliminary risk assessment which is intended to inform and assist decision-making and planning for Montserrat. The quantitative assessment provides estimated probabilities of fatalities for comparative purposes for various scenarios, based on the population data valid in November 1997. This report also discusses factors that affect risk, including warnings, public response, mitigation and health implications. Time constraints have not allowed the results to be reported back to the whole scientific group for appraisal of the volcanological balance of the results, feedback and further iteration of the modelling procedure. This assessment is for the next six months only and the dynamic properties of the volcano make regular updates necessary.

(2) For the present population distribution, the risk analysis indicates that the probability of no further fatalities on Montserrat in the next 6 months is about 90%; thus there is a 1 in 10 chance of there being some new fatalities. The chances of suffering 10 or more fatalities in the next 6 months are estimated to be between 1 in 70 nad 1 in 100. Exposure risk could be cut by more than an order of magnitude by strict implementation of the present Exclusion Zone boundary and made lower still by full relocation to northern Montserrat (north of Lawyer's Mountain).

To be continued tomorrow.


The Festival activities for the season were wrapped up over the weekend. On Friday night the Calypso Show and Competion saw Kensie winning the crown with Cupid a very close second. Newcomer Joseph "Pops" Morris was in third place.

On Sunday night, the Emerald Community Singers re-presented their Christmas Concert "Peace on Earth - Joy to the World" at the Brades pentecostal Church in the form of a free "Peoples Concert". 1998 is the start of the 27th year of performing for the Emerald Community Singers.

The highspot of the entire festival was the appearance at Festival Village of the Bajan band "Krosfyah" when some 1500 residents turned up for the show.


Dr Howard A.Fergus is currently the Acting Governor of Montserrat. The substantive Governor, H.E. Mr Anthony Abbott is currently in Britain and will return to office next week.


Mr Abraham Roach, the Quartermaster of the Royal Montserrat Defence Force took suddenly sick on the last day of 1997 and was flown to the Holberton Hospital in Antigua for treatment. He died later the same day. Mr Roach will be sadly missed in Montserrat as he was very active in community life. He was the Secretary of the Montserrat Cricket Umpires Association for 30 years.

His funeral, expected to be a military one, will be held later this week at a date and time yet to be announced.

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

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

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.