Sunday, February 23, 1997

Mudvolcano engulfs Piparo

A house is left in ruins after the eruption of a mud volcano in Piparo early
yesterday morning. This house was pushed over by the wall of mud on the left.

South/Central Bureau

A LARGE part of Piparo was yesterday declared a disaster area after a mud volcano erupted and caused widespread damage that left 108 people homeless.

Three houses,more than a dozen vehicles and scores of farm animals, poultry and house pets were buried under tons of gaseous grey mud which spewed some 200 feet into the air when the volcano blew.

Eleven other houses were partially submerged under the mud. And several others badly damaged by the tremors which accompanied the eruption.

More than 300 people within a one-mile radius of the volcano were being evacuated up to late yesterday. A large contingent of national police, community police, army and Fire Service personnel cordoned off the area.

The 5 a.m eruption in the agricultural village in Central Trinidad knocked out electricity and water supllies.Telephone contact was also disrupted and the main road virtually disappeared.

Relief teams and security personnel had difficulty keeping villagers and visitors,who rushed to the area, away from the volcano. Numerous appeals were made to people to keep away from tilted houses and not to attempt to salvage anything from partially damaged homes. Many people ignored the police appeals and sought shelter from torrential rain under the structures.

Asst Commissioner in charge of operations Norton Regist said "all homes must be evacuated and people housed in the relief centres for their safety". He stressed: "The area will be treated as a disaster area because a natural disaster took place. Until the scientists from the Seismic Unit declare the place safe for villagers to return we will keep the area cordoned off."

Looking at the expanse of mud he shook his head and muttered: "That is not over yet. We must get the all clear from the researchers before people could return to their homes. " He said a team from the Seismic Research Unit was on the site but had left by midday. Regist said they had been contacted to return because tremors were being felt at the site up to 9. a.m.

Agriculture Minister Reeza Mohammed and Education Minister Adesh Nanan co-ordinated relief supplies and assisted with the evacuation exercise.

By midday, mattresses, clothing and food stuff were piling into the Presbyterian church , school and community centres which were being used as evacuation centres. Teams from National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA), Trinidad and Tobago Emergency Mutual Scheme (TTEMAS), the Red Cross , a group of Petrotrin geologists, Health Ministry officials, members of the Seismic Research Unit and a group of students from the University of the West Indies were on the scene.

Thirty-one families were displaced by the eruption .Fifteen cars, four pick-up vans, some 15 cattle, 13 goats, scores of poultry and pets buried .The early morning eruption sent residents screaming and scampering in panic from the tumbling grey mud which pulled down electricity poles, telephone wires, ripped apart pipe lines and knocked down huge trees. A nearby temple, Aum Kar Hindu Temple, and convicted murderer Dole Chadee's temple were cracked in several places.
Tombstones in the Piparo Cemetery tilted and fissures erupted along the road for more than mile.

The eruption rocked areas for miles around .

Ralph Karim, 60, who lived closest to the volcano lost his home. Aziz Khan, 27, and his eight-month pregnant wife, Serah, his brother Azim Khan, 28,and his wife Assiam, neighbour, Jameela Sewak, and her three children, who are on holidays in Guyana for the past month also lost their homes.

It was the second time in just over two weeks that the mud volcano erupted.

On the first occasion it left two large holes in the main road,cracks more than 100 feet long in some places and vents from which spewed sulphuric fumes.Several houses including Karim's were damaged.

SRU and NEMA officials visited the area then.Mud samples were collected by the SRFU for laboratory testing at St.Augusatine.

A NEMA official said she did not believe there would be further "serious eruptions" and had predicted that activity at the volcano would "subside considerably" over the next few days.

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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