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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (July 29, 1999 – PACNEWS)---Northern Marianas Governor Pedro Tenorio today declared a state of emergency on Alamagan island, following reports that a volcanic eruption is likely.

Declaring Alamagan unsafe for human habitation, Tenorio restricted all travel to the island with the exception of scientific expeditions.

The Governor cited a report from Dr. Robert Koyanagi of the Hawai‘i Volcanic Observatory, which raised the alarm that the principal islands north of Saipan are subject to major eruptions.

A group of Emergency Management Office (EMO) personnel made a scientific expedition to Alamagan in June, and discovered then that steaming from the side of the volcano was continuing.

In his July 29 Declaration of Emergency memorandum, Tenorio said Dr. Koyanagi's report has been confirmed by field studies made by the U.S. Geological Surveys (USGS).

"Tectonic seismicity of the Mariana subduction zone is very high, which also attests to the probability of volcanic eruption," the memorandum noted.

Dr. Koyanagi's report also recommended the installation of a telemeter system of seismic monitoring as a first step in providing an early warning system of impending volcanic eruptions.

In response, EMO last month established a seismic telemetry station in the island to monitor volcanic activity.

Based on the recent visit of geological surveyors, and in consultation with Dr. Koyanagi, EMO ruled that the island is unsafe and should be declared off limits to the public.

EMO asked the CNMI chief executive on July 23 to officially declare an emergency with respect to Alamagan island.

Due to the possibility of volcanic eruption and based on the recommendations from USGS and EMO, residents of the islands north of Saipan have been evacuated.

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