Montserrat Exodus Runs Bank Out Of Dollars; U.S. Geologists En Route
PLYMOUTH, Montserrat (AP) _ Banks ran out of U.S. dollars and the passport office was out of passports Wednesday as people left Montserrat despite government attempts to allay fears about volcanic eruptions on the island.
Officials, nonetheless, have asked for help from France, which sent two scientists Wednesday, and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Volcanic Crisis Team, which was sending five geologists. They were expected to arrive Thursday.
On July 19, ash and steam began spewing out of the 3,000-foot Chances Peak, the highest mountain on the 7-by-11-mile Caribbean island.
Geologists have expressed concern about an unusual pattern of minor earthquakes in the volcano and three eruptions on Tuesday. Officials have made no clarification since then.
Three major commercial banks ran out of dollars Wednesday. At the passport office, people were told no passports were left.
In Plymouth, the capital of the British territory, some popular businesses were closed Wednesday.
Montserrat Aviation Services manager Sarah Silcott said the LIAT airline provided at least eight charter flights to those wishing to leave on Tuesday and Wednesday, in addition to four daily flights to neighboring Antigua.
Montserrat Airways, a local charter company, said its departing flights were booked up for the next two weeks.