Navy helps Montserrat evacuation

The Royal Navy will today help to evacuate residents of the British colony of Montserrat after warnings that the next eruption of the Soufriere volcano could engulf the entire Caribbean island.

The frigate HMS Liverpool has anchored off Little Bay, in the safest zone on the north-eastern coast, to supervise the evacuation. But refugees will initially be taken by ferry to the nearby island of Antigua and the Liverpool is likely to ship people out only in the event of a large-scale eruption. US, French and Dutch naval vessels are also on standby. A series of earth tremors on Monday added to the fears of an eruption. Similar tremors preceded several volcanic explosions last week which showered ash clouds and hot pumice stones. The situation appeared to be degenerating yesterday after a street protest at what was perceived to be the confusing stance taken by both the British and local government over whether and how an evacuation would take place. In the township of Gerald's Bottom, which houses several hundred evacuees from the volcano battered south, residents confirmed that at least 50 evacuees had protested earlier in the day. They blocked a road in Salem with oil cans and pews from a nearby church serving as a shelter.

Their main grievance appeared to be the failure of Britain and the local government to give details of a promised "voluntary repatriation package" Britain had announced the package at the weekend, but without giving details of how much assistance would be given. In the tiny wooden shack at Gerald's Bottom known as The Silver Town Bar, evacuees shouted noisily at me asking me to ensure that Britain heard of the protest. "Do not play it small man, play it big," said Jane Sweeney, 51, owner of the bar. "Most people here want to leave, but no have money."

Asked where she would prefer to go with her eight children and five grandchildren, she said "London, straight to London, nowhere else.

"Ready to go now, here feel too hot. The heat is killing me," she said. "I have lived here since 1959, but with this volcano at night the heat is burning me down. I love my country. I do not love London but I want to go. Big stones fall over here. Everybody want to leave."

Local disorder appeared to be building as six prisoners among those evacuated at the weekend from a library serving as a prison, escaped yesterday, including a murderer. The escape was a big talking point on the island, traditionally bereft of crime.

Navy personnel onshore will help register evacuees and organise the ferry boardings.

Britain continued to insist yesterday that the evacuation was so far only a "voluntary repatriation package" for those of the remaining 4,000 islanders who wish to leave and no one would be forced to go. The British government supported the construction of a new capital in the north, probably close to Little Bay or nearby Carr's Bay, sources said.

But with the remaining residents crammed into private homes, churches, tents or shelters in the rocky north, with few facilities, it appeared increasingly unfeasible they could remain there for long. Though many were refusing to leave the central zone, notably the township of Salem, where officials ordered evacuation last Saturday because of the danger of a pyroclastic flow of superheated ash, gas and rock that would burn everything in its path to cinders within seconds.

Despite the dangers, a few people yesterday opened their shops or bars - simple wooden shacks thrown up after the evacuation last year of the now-destroyed capital, Plymouth.

Islanders expressed increasing frustration over mixed signals from British officials as to whether London favoured a total evacuation, at least until the volcano settles down, or keeping people on the island to press ahead with development in the north. Many were awaiting details of the voluntary repatriation package before deciding whether to stay or go.

George Foulkes, British Minister for International Development, warned at the weekend of the possibility of a cataclysmic eruption and for the first time said even the north was not safe. Clive Mansfield, a spokes- man for the British governor Frank Savage, then put out a statement saying: "The north is safe. There's no question of anyone being forced off the island."

Suggested Topics
Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on