Categorized | Environment, Local, News

Bringing 20 year volcanic crisis perspectives – Recapturing: UNDER DEATH THREAT

The Montserrat News

The Crisis – How it began!

On Friday July 21, 1995, reported the beginning of activities at Soufriere Hills – Threats that a volcano might erupt and spew a red hot death out of the mountain side unto Southern coastal villages; while it covered the rest of the Island in volcanic ash has kept Montserrat residents on edge since Tuesday. Local and international telephone lines were jammed Tuesday night as people gave to friends, relatives and well-wishers here and abroad panicky accounts of the infolding events on the island.

Signs of volcanic activity not seen on Montserrat in living memory caused residents of Kinsale and other parts of South of Plymouth to abandon their homes and seek shelter overnight at friends and public shelters in Plymouth, Cork Hill, Salem and the North.

Underground rumblings were reported from about 2:00 Tuesday afternoon, later the odor of sulphur, typically found around the mouths of volcanoes, could be detected from Gingoes to Wapping. Cars, homes and people in Trials, Kingsale and the surrounding areas were covered with a fine volcanic dust that left clothing smelling of sulphur and cars covered with dark gray pin-head sized spots.

The Police, Defence Force and the Disaster Preparedness Committee were out assessing the danger and making their own emergency preparations. They were reportedly being advised by seismic units in Barbados and Trinidad.

Governor Frank Savage and Chief Minister Reuben Meade gave regular reports on Radio Montserrat. One announcement advised residents in those areas south of Plymouth to prepare them-selves to evacuate their villages.

By night dozens of people with overnight bags had gathered at Moose’s restaurant at Kingsale as well as at the wall along the bay front in Plymouth.

Later announcements said that although the Schools at Cork Hill and Salem would remain open to anyone who wanted the security of sleeping outside the volcano zone, but there was no immediate danger to anyone and people could safely remain in their homes.

Radio Montserrat was on the air all night to get out information about developments and to carry official reports.

In the Gages area the volcano rumblings could be heard on an almost continuous basis. A group of volcano watchers around Roach’s Shop at Gages said that they had seen fire in the night sky and that the fire had not come from Gages Mountain which some reports had indicated to be the location of the volcanic activity but had come instead from a point somewhere in between Gages Soufriere and Galways Soufriere.

On Wednesday morning Mr. Lloyd Lynch arrived in Montserrat from the Seismic Research Unit in Trinidad. The first press release after his arrival said that an “explosion earthquake” had taken place at 9:24 a.m. not at Gages Mountain but near to Chances Peak. Because of the height from which the material was being emitted, it was predicted that there would be ash fall blowing unto Plymouth. This proved to be true as people in Plymouth soon experienced the same odors and volcanic dust that had bothered Southerners since the night before.

Wednesday Meade and Savage had a press briefing and said that after talking to Lynch who was the expert, they were reassured that there was no reason for panic and in any event there would be at least a 24-hour warning before any serious volcanic eruption. Savage admitted that certain steps had been taken to respond to a situation in which there was an eruption, but he said this in no way meant that he believed there would be a major eruption.

Contingency plans included moving Glendon Hospital patients and equipment to St. John’s School.

On Wednesday evening there was a jolt as the whole island shook. The general tension magnified the intensity of the quick quake.

On Thursday volcano experts Dr. William Ambeh, Head of the Trinidad Unit and Dr. Joe Devine a consultant arrived here to conduct further studies on volcanic activity. They held an unsatisfactory press conference for which many blamed the press. The West Indies Guard Ship H.M.S Southampton arrived to provide relief services if necessary.

The Governor and the Chief Minister held a guess conference Thursday night.

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The Montserrat News

The Crisis – How it began!

On Friday July 21, 1995, reported the beginning of activities at Soufriere Hills – Threats that a volcano might erupt and spew a red hot death out of the mountain side unto Southern coastal villages; while it covered the rest of the Island in volcanic ash has kept Montserrat residents on edge since Tuesday. Local and international telephone lines were jammed Tuesday night as people gave to friends, relatives and well-wishers here and abroad panicky accounts of the infolding events on the island.

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Signs of volcanic activity not seen on Montserrat in living memory caused residents of Kinsale and other parts of South of Plymouth to abandon their homes and seek shelter overnight at friends and public shelters in Plymouth, Cork Hill, Salem and the North.

Underground rumblings were reported from about 2:00 Tuesday afternoon, later the odor of sulphur, typically found around the mouths of volcanoes, could be detected from Gingoes to Wapping. Cars, homes and people in Trials, Kingsale and the surrounding areas were covered with a fine volcanic dust that left clothing smelling of sulphur and cars covered with dark gray pin-head sized spots.

The Police, Defence Force and the Disaster Preparedness Committee were out assessing the danger and making their own emergency preparations. They were reportedly being advised by seismic units in Barbados and Trinidad.

Governor Frank Savage and Chief Minister Reuben Meade gave regular reports on Radio Montserrat. One announcement advised residents in those areas south of Plymouth to prepare them-selves to evacuate their villages.

By night dozens of people with overnight bags had gathered at Moose’s restaurant at Kingsale as well as at the wall along the bay front in Plymouth.

Later announcements said that although the Schools at Cork Hill and Salem would remain open to anyone who wanted the security of sleeping outside the volcano zone, but there was no immediate danger to anyone and people could safely remain in their homes.

Radio Montserrat was on the air all night to get out information about developments and to carry official reports.

In the Gages area the volcano rumblings could be heard on an almost continuous basis. A group of volcano watchers around Roach’s Shop at Gages said that they had seen fire in the night sky and that the fire had not come from Gages Mountain which some reports had indicated to be the location of the volcanic activity but had come instead from a point somewhere in between Gages Soufriere and Galways Soufriere.

On Wednesday morning Mr. Lloyd Lynch arrived in Montserrat from the Seismic Research Unit in Trinidad. The first press release after his arrival said that an “explosion earthquake” had taken place at 9:24 a.m. not at Gages Mountain but near to Chances Peak. Because of the height from which the material was being emitted, it was predicted that there would be ash fall blowing unto Plymouth. This proved to be true as people in Plymouth soon experienced the same odors and volcanic dust that had bothered Southerners since the night before.

Wednesday Meade and Savage had a press briefing and said that after talking to Lynch who was the expert, they were reassured that there was no reason for panic and in any event there would be at least a 24-hour warning before any serious volcanic eruption. Savage admitted that certain steps had been taken to respond to a situation in which there was an eruption, but he said this in no way meant that he believed there would be a major eruption.

Contingency plans included moving Glendon Hospital patients and equipment to St. John’s School.

On Wednesday evening there was a jolt as the whole island shook. The general tension magnified the intensity of the quick quake.

On Thursday volcano experts Dr. William Ambeh, Head of the Trinidad Unit and Dr. Joe Devine a consultant arrived here to conduct further studies on volcanic activity. They held an unsatisfactory press conference for which many blamed the press. The West Indies Guard Ship H.M.S Southampton arrived to provide relief services if necessary.

The Governor and the Chief Minister held a guess conference Thursday night.