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Montserrat Considers Resettlement

June 26, 1998

ST. JOHN’S, Montserrat (AP) _ A year after a deadly volcano eruption that ravaged Montserrat, the government said Friday it may allow people to return to an area that had been declared uninhabitable.

The decision will be made after scientists complete a report on the activity at the Soufriere Hills volcano, said Herman Sergeant, spokesman for the Office of the Chief Minister.

The announcement about Salem, on the west-central part of the 39-square-mile Caribbean island, came a day after a memorial service marking the anniversary of the volcano’s deadliest eruption.

Hundreds of residents overflowed the Brades Pentecostal Church on Thursday for a service remembering more than a dozen people swept to their deaths by the sudden eruption last year.

``What happened on June 25 of last year is still very vivid,″ Sargeant said. ``It has made a lasting impression, I think, on how we live our lives. It taught us not to take nature lightly.″

When the volcano erupted, many people were in an area designated unsafe by the government, checking on their property or tending to livestock or crops left behind.

Many were killed instantly by pyroclastic flows, the waves of 900-degree gas, ash and rocks that swept down the mountainside at 100 mph.

Two-thirds of the island remains uninhabitable, and most of the original 11,000 residents have left. But the volcano has not had a significant eruption since December and has been especially quiet for the last two months, Sergeant said.

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