The Miami Herald
Thu, Mar. 04, 2004
Montserrat volcano spews streams of ash

BRADES, Montserrat - (AP) -- A major eruption at Montserrat's volcano sent a massive cloud of ash about 20,000 feet into the sky Wednesday, but no injuries or damage were reported, officials said.

Pyroclastic flows went down the eastern flank of the Soufriere Hills volcano after the 3 p.m. explosion, said Peter Dunkley, director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. A helicopter was sent around the volcano to gather information, scientists said.

The eruption came more than seven months after a major lava dome collapse July 12. No one was reported injured in the collapse, but volcanic ash settled on the ground up to four inches deep in places. Britain authorized $1.6 million in aid to help the British Caribbean territory recover.

Montserrat's volcano sprang to life in 1995, eventually leading more than half the island's population to move away. Many moved to Britain. An eruption in 1997 killed 19 people and buried the capital, Plymouth.

Scientists report any changes in the volcano to the island's 4,500 residents, who live in northern areas declared safe.