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World Briefing / Montserrat

Volcano awakens, spews ash plumes

October 10, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Rock falls from a spewing volcano stirred up volcanic ash on the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat, which lost half its population after a devastating eruption more than a decade ago.

Dozens of small earthquakes accompanied ash plumes that have billowed up 20,000 feet this week, prompting officials to distribute masks to residents, said James White Jr., acting director of the Disaster Management Coordination Agency.

A thin layer of volcanic residue coats several northwestern towns, and ashfall is expected to continue, said Paul Cole, director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.

Cole said the Soufriere Hills volcano, which stirred to life Sunday for the first time in 10 months, may be creating a new lava dome, a mound of cooled lava that forms at the volcano's opening. It would be at least the fifth time that has occurred since the volcano became active in 1995.

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