Dome of Montserrat’s Soufriere Hills Volcano Collapses

Yesterday, on our way back to Trinidad from Miami, my friend Joanna and I were astonished to hear the pilot of our airplane say the following over the intercom:

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to take a bit of a scenic route to Trinidad today — instead of our normal route, we’re going to head towards Haiti, and then towards Aruba and Bonaire and follow the north coast of Venezuela into Trinidad.  This is because of the eruption of the volcano in Montserrat this morning, which is spewing volcanic ash into the atmosphere, and it is against FAA regulations to fly through volcanic ash.”

Joanna and I looked at each other with astonishment.  We hadn’t heard anything about a volcano erupting.   This wasn’t good news:  About a decade ago, the Montserrat volcano erupted, resulting in a decline in the local population from  12,000 to 4,000 people.  More than half of the island became uninhabitable. Although only 20 people were killed by the mud volcano, most migrated overseas.

A few hours later, the pilot came back on, directing our attention to the left side of the airplane, where the cloud of volcanic ash had risen to over 60,000 feet.  Strangely, once I arrived home I couldn’t find any news report about the eruption.

Finally, this morning, I found this article in the Washington Post, published late last night.  It appears the inhabitants of the island are safe.

Good news.

(Photo courtesy of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.)