This week marks the 15-year anniversary of the 25 June 1997 dome collapse event which resulted in the tragic deaths of 19 Montserratians.
At 12:55 (local time) on Wednesday 25 June, 1997, a series of 3 devastating pyroclastic flows swept the northern flanks of the Soufrière Hills volcano. The flows moved down Mosquito Ghaut, into the Paradise River, reaching within 50 metres of Bramble airport. Flows also travelled eastward into the Belham Valley. The photograph above shows pyroclastic flows in Spanish Point during this event.
The consequences of this event were severe. Nineteen people perished and five other people were seriously burned due to the flows and associated surge clouds. The flows also damaged or destroyed between 100 to 150 houses and devastated the villages of Streatham, Bethel, Bramble, Trants, Farm, and part of Spanish Point. Areas covered in the deposits left by pyroclastic flows can be seen in the photograph to the left.
Pyroclastic flows, similar to those that occurred on 25 June 1997, can still occur at any time without warning on any side of the volcano. We urge the public to use the tragedy of 25 June 1997 as a reminder of the seriousness of volcanic hazards that could still affect areas inside the exclusion zone.