ST. JOHN'S, Montserrat (AP) -- Montserrat's newly revived volcano hurled
glowing rocks high into the sky, triggered fiery avalanches and shot a
thundering ash cloud as high as 30,000 feet, scientists said Tuesday.
The explosion Monday night sent volcanic boulders crashing over the spot
where Britain's Prince Andrew stood on the Belham Valley Bridge during a
visit to the British Caribbean island last week.
It was the largest since the Soufriere Hills volcano began belching out
rock in November after a six-month silence that had scientists predicting an
end to four years of eruptions.
The explosion sent a new coat of ash over parts of the island's northern
zone," where residents have been living since the volcano began erupting in
1995. Since then, 7,000 of the 11,000 residents have left for Britain and other
In 1997, a massive explosion killed 19 people who had ventured into the
"There were loud noises and thunder, glowing rocks flying in the air,"
Lee, a spokesman for the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, said today.
Scientists said the explosion confirmed their prediction that the new buildup
rock would spawn a new series of explosions.
They said heavy rains triggered the collapse of the new lava dome, with
of avalanches shooting down the eastern flanks of the volcano Monday
afternoon. Later that night an explosion shot glowing rocks hundreds of feet
into the air.
An ash cloud rose to 30,000 feet, creating lightning and thunder and forcing
traffic controllers to divert airplanes around the island, Lee said.
Mudslides rushed over the Belham Valley bridge.
Last year, scientists said the volcano had stopped erupting for the first
since roaring to life in July 1995. Residents were allowed to return to part of
the evacuated area, although the devastated capital of Plymouth remains
But after two small explosions in early November, helicopter flights showed
the volcano was spewing out lava again at the rate of four to seven cubic
yards -- about the size of a refrigerator -- every second.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.