THE VOLCANIC EXPLANATION:
Over the last 24 hours the activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano has been at a slightly higher level than that of the last few days. Rockfall signals have increased and there have been over 100 such signals in the last 24 hours.
In addition there have been hybrid, long period and volcano-tectonic earthquakes all of which indicate the dome is growing. Some visuals of the dome were possible yesterday (Tuesday) and it was observed that there has been considerable new growth which has filled in the scar left by the Boxing Day 1997 event.
Also on Tuesday it was observed that there is vigorous steam venting taking place in the centre area of the dome.
Following recent rains, ash and dust levels have decreased considerably and only the measuring station at Woodlands was the level high. However, residents are still urged to wear their dust masks.
MONTSERRAT TO BECOME 'BRITISH OVERSEAS TERRITORY':
During a speech by Britain's Secretary of State, Robin Cook MP in London earlier this month at the meeting of the Dependent Territories Association he said:
"Dependent Territories is the wrong name for today's territories, which are energetic, self-governing and anything but dependent. It does not chime with the principles of our partnership, or even with the notion of partnership itself. It is a phrase which implies reliance, and ignores the territorie's high degree of autonomy. You (the Dependent Territories) have made clear that you share this feeling. That is why we have decided to rename the territories 'British Overseas Territories'. This name will need legislation. It will be an important statement of the modern character of the territories, and of our modernised partnership".
WATER STORAGE IMPROVED:
The Montserrat Water Authority has contracted to build a 100,000 gallon storage tank at Dick Hill to increase the water storage capacity at that site to 140,000 gallons. The additional storage capacity not only ensures a constant water supply to new houses at Lookout and the adjoining campus of the Secondary School, but also augments the water availability to sections of the northern zone of the island which have been plagued by regular interruptions to the water supply over the last few months.
TEMPORARY GOVERNMENT HEADQUARTERS:
Brown and Root have reported that the site preparations for the temporary government headquarters at Brades are underway following the ground breaking ceremony there last month.
The office complex will consist of 100 portacabins of the flat pack design which are already on island. The layout and configuration of the site has been designed by local architect Ken Cassell Jnr.
The complex it is hoped will be ready for next month thereby freeing up homes in the north currently being used as office space.
EVACUATION PLANNING UNDERWAY:
The Emergency Department continues to plan for the evacuation of Zones 3 and 4 on the map contained in the recently issued brochure "Advice to the residents of Montserrat".
People living in these areas, previously referred to as the Central Zone, have been recommended to leave the area and move north of Lawyer's River. The advice brochure issued to every Montserratian states that major events can happen without warning leaving insufficient time to move people to the safety of the north.
Measures are now in hand to move all government offices and business places to the north of the island and it is hoped that residents will follow suit.
It is hoped that the total evacuation plan for the area will never have to be put into place, but in the interests of proper disaster planning it is imperative that such a plan exists in case volcanic activity switches and impacts the Belham Valley.
Starting today every home in the area will be visited by members of the search and rescue teams to determine the exact location of every residence and those people who are living there.
VISITORS TO LOCAL BRANCH OF RED CROSS:
The Montserrat Branch of the British Red Cross has been receiving manpower assistance from the British Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross / Red Crescent Societies.
Visiting over the last few days have been Paul Anticoni and Jo Baker of the British Red Cross and Marja Naarendorp of the International Federation based in Kingston, Jamaica.
The visitors have been helping to strengthen the management and finances of the local branch as well as assisting in programme planning.
More information later in the week...........................