Monday, February 24, 1997

Mud still threatens rest of the village
South/Central Bureau

A DEEP SEA of mud was still on the move yesterday creeping towards more homes and crops and threatening to engulf the entire village of Piparo.

The threat came as hundreds of residents remained housed in relief centres and at relatives' homes following the eruption of a mud volcano Saturday that caused widespread damage in the agricultural village in Central Trinidad.

The massive mud slide was being assisted by heavy rains and more earth tremors.
Heavily armed police and army personnel yesterday faced another threat - looting.
There have been several reports of crop stealing from lands evacuated by villagers.

Armed police kept guard at night to ward of looters, said ASP Winston Cooper, head of community police.

Saturday's eruption buried several homes , livestock and more than a dozen vehicles and left 109 people homeless. More than 300 have had to evacuate their homes.

Damage is estimated at millions of dollars.

The area has been declared a disaster and up to late yesterday the village remained without pipeborne water and electricity.

Security forces warned off thousands of curious spectators who rushed to the village from all over the country.

They were told if they went into the area they would be doing so at their own risk.

Victims of Saturday's early morning tragedy, which caused mass panic woke up to a new fear yesterday.

That they could all be buried alive by the gaseous volcanic mud which crept near ten feet closer to empty homes and rose at least two feet during the night, according to National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) official Stephen Basdeo.

The fear caused some of the victims to form the Piparo Volcano Relief Committee.Their main aim is to plan emergency exit routes. They argued that Hoseine Trace, which was blocked off by the army should be repaired to facilitate quick exit from the area in case of a greater emergency.

Yesterday scores of villagers, police, firemen, soldiers and members of the coast guard looked on at the mass of grey mud which continued to move throughout the night. New fissures and huge cracks with gaping trenches appeared on what's left of the main road following overnight tremors.Eighteen of the victims are bein g housed at the Presbyterian school which is one of the relief centres.They will continue occupying the building until housing accommodation could be made.

Today there will be no school. Common entrance pupils will attend classes in the nearby church.

Police and soldiers had great difficulty controlling thousands of visitors who flocked to the area to see the disastrous effects in the aftermath of the volcano which erupted around 5 a.m. and buried more than a dozen homes, scores of animals, pets and left 108 people homeless.

Yesterday the entire area from Guaracara Main Road and Hoseinee Trace, the only access roads to the area were cordoned off and people prevented from entering except for legitimate reasons, said police.

Scores of visitors and spectators who defied instruction and trekked through near three miles of high bushes to get to the mud volcano were warned that they were doing so at their own risk.

Members of the media were also cautioned by Agriculture Minister Reeza Mohammed who said if they were to proceed beyond the police barriers to the volcano they were doing so "at your own risk. I don't want you all there. That thing is still active."

Mohammed said they were awaiting word from the Seismic Research Unit scientists on the status of the volcano. Efforts by Express to contact the team of researchers were unsuccessful.

Mohammed also received complaints of predial larceny from people who were evacuated from homes.

They called on Mohammed to have police stationed at various points around the volcano to protect their crops from visitors who had "raided coconuts, oranges, grape fruits, fig, " and other fruits.

Mohammed said he would look into the matter.

Health Minister Hamza Rafeeq visited the area to see if there was any threat to villagers health. He was satisfied that there was none. Education Minister Adesh Nanan was also at the scene.

Anatomy of a Mud Volcano  Interesting article from Internet Express,Trinidad,WI.
The Eruption I  Mud volcano engulfs Piparo, Feb.23rd, 1997
The Eruption II  When the Piparo bubble burst, March 2nd.1997
Still threatening  News of February 24th.1997
Once again, 2011  December 2011
Trinidad Express  Thanks to The Trinidad Internet Express
Info from NODAK,Alaska  From people who know what it is..

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