The government of Montserrat declared the island an emergency zone after the Soufriere Hills volcano started erupting on Juy 12, 2003. Conditions were exacerbated by heavy rains. Although there were no serious injuries, the government requested the donation of dust masks for the population.

Volcanic Eruption in Montserrat

More information

  • View a clip of PAHO's recent video on the health effects of volcanoes.
  • Read the accompanying guide.




Dome collapse of July 12th followed by explosions on 13th, 14th, and 15th has affected entire island

Health Facilities

St. John's Hospital

Fully functional. All staff available. No structural damage. Telephone communications still operational. All accesses to hospital remain open. Power from national grid intermittent but hospital has it own generator plus alternative source of power from the national emergency office nearby. Elective surgeries rescheduled. Potable water supplies adequate. No increases in admission, incidence of skin infections, water related illnesses.

Health Clinics

Salem Clinic

Functional. All staff available. In hardest hit zone. CMO presently visiting to ensure adequate staff and supplies in place. No structural damage. Telephone communications still operational. Access to clinic open. Water storage tanks down, but Environmental Health Department to assist with water needs.

St. Peter's, Cudjoe-Head and St. John's Clinics

Fully functional, all staff available, no structural damage. Telephone communications at Cudjoe-Head and St. John's down, but are prioritized for repair. No radio communications operational at same two clinics. St. Peter's Clinic has telecommunications.

Attendance at clinics has fallen as people remain indoors as much as possible. Community services are checking on vulnerable people in communities and those on social welfare.

Mental Health

106 patients on the island (19 aggressive). Court order being obtained to mobilize the 19 patients and administer their medication.


Ashfall and broken trees have heavily impacted spring water sources. Catchment areas are being cleaned. Valves and hydrant boxes in Salem, Old Woodlands and St. Johns have been covered by ash. Acid and sulfur content is causing discoloration of steel reservoirs. Power outages and surges have damaged parts of the electrical switch gear of the pump station. Replacement cost EC$ 20,000.

Pre-eruption daily production approximately 320,000 gallons with a daily demand of approximately 308,000 gallons. Post-eruption demand exceeds production and poses stress on system which is compounded by intermittent power supply from national electricity grid.

Needs to repair water system are being met by the Emergency Department. Calcium hypochlorite (approx. 8 drums) still needed.


Garbage/waste collection services not interrupted. Debris removal in progress. All roads accessible but some road surfaces still covered with mud. All earth moving equipment fully engaged. Drains being cleaned to ensure rainfall runoff.

Some deaths of wildlife (doves, pigeons, iguanas) experienced. No significant problems regarding carcasses.

Public Service employees are to return to work tomorrow but Heads of Departments have been asked to exercise discretion so people can continue cleanup while ensuring that essential public services are available.