Montserrat This Week - 013

For the period of 24 September - 30 September, 1998
A weekly newsletter for E mail subscribers published by the
Emergency Department, Governor's Office, Montserrat.


The activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano has increased during the course of the last week. There have been an increased number of rockfalls and volcano-tectonic earthquakes. In the 24 hour period that ended at 5pm yesterday for example, there were 22 rockfalls and 14 VT's.

Some of the recent rockfalls have generated ashclouds which reached heights of up to 4000 feet. In addition there has been very vigorous ash venting also producing ash clouds that drift occasionally to the north west, causing light ashfall in the north of the island.

In recent nights there has been roaring sounds from the volcano associated with the ash venting and at the same time the seismic network has been recording continuous harmonic tremor.

Yesterday (Tuesday) very clear conditions allowed MVO scientists to take a careful look at the vents and also to carry out a dome survey from varying sites to assess the current volume of the dome.

It is thought that the recent very heavy rains is causing much of the steam and ash venting that is currently happening.


A Government House Press Release yesterday afternoon reported "The Acting Governor, HE Dr Howard Fergus CBE, was briefed this morning by Dr Robert Maynard and Dr Peter Baxter, representatives of the UK's Chief Medical Officer, on their findings and those of the Institute Of Occupational Medicine on ash levels in Salem, Friths, Olveston and Old Towne. A full report will be published in due course but the main conclusions are:

(a) The reoccupation of Salem and Upper & Lower Friths is considered acceptable. However, it is important that clean up operations are continued to prevent resuspended and fresh ash from accumulating. It is also recommended that areas denuded of grass be seeded and watered as grass is the most effective means of preventing ash resuspension.

(b) General reoccupation of Old Towne is not advised until further clean up operations have been completed. Properly protected teams will be needed to complete cleaning the roads in this area. Villas close to the roads and in low-lying sites should not be reoccupied until the roads have been cleaned. Villas that have been well maintained, that are ash free and sited a reasonable distance away from the roads may be reoccupied though owners should be aware of the need to work to keep ash levels down both indoors and out.

A leaflet giving clear advice on the ash hazard in the above areas and further guidance on clearing up ash will be issued shortly. Efforts to complete the clean up of Old Towne will continue.

In the light of this advice, the Government of Montserrat has decided to allow the reoccupation of Salem, Friths, Olveston and Old Towne (where cleaning has been completed) from Wednesday 30 September.

It should be remembered that the area around Belham Bridge remains at risk from sudden flooding & mud flows and unauthorised access is prohibited. The police check point at the northern entry to Salem will be relocated near the Belham River. (END)


From today, September 30th a revised risk map is in place. The new map shows two zones namely, an Exclusion Zone and a Northern Zone.

The Exclusion Zone is everything south of a line from the northern side of the Belham River Valley, across the Centre Hills to Pelican Ghaut in the east.

The Northern Zone is the remainder of Montserrat.


His Excellency the Governor, Mr Tony Abbott, left the island on Sunday 27 September on leave. Dr Howard Fergus will be the Acting Governor for the duration of His Excellency's absence.


Today (Wednesday) is the mid point of a week of activities for "Tourism Week". The week has contained, amongst other events, a Gospel Show, a school quiz, addresses by the Chief Minister and Tourism Officials and later in the week there will be a street fair at McChesney's Estate in Olveston.


The Montserrat Red Cross has tried over the past few years to make it possible for all the remaining children on island to get the wonderful feeling of Christmas by hosting a Christmas Party.

This year will be no exception and the Red Cross First Aiders have started to plan the event to make it a fruitful and successful one. Every child who attends the party receives a gift and leaves feeling special and loved.

With this in mind, the Red Cross is now appealing for gifts of toys and money from their many caring friends. Supporters at home and overseas are urged to contribute in whatever way they can.

Further information about donations can be obtained from the Red Cross at E mail address:


Montserrat is to have an "Emergency Management Week of Activities" to include open days, site visits, photo exhibits, fim shows, children's and adult's lectures, radio programmes, road safety day, health day, search and rescue demonstrations and a host of other events.

The week will run from Thursday October 8th to Wednesday October 14th which is the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) day of activities world wide. Next weeks edition of this newsletter will post the full programme of events.

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.