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By Lindablue F. Romero

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (March 15, 2000 – Saipan Tribune)---Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio has extended anew the declaration of disaster emergency in the CNMI in the wake of the continued threat of a major volcanic eruption on Alamagan, an island north of Saipan.

Mr. Tenorio said the area remains off-limits to human habitation and that travel to the island is still restricted, except for monitoring activities conducted by the authorities.

According to the emergency declaration, the volcanic activity and seismic phenomena continue to exist, almost eight months since signs first emerged of a major pending eruption.

Residents fled the northern island after the government prohibited travel to the area.

The latest warning will remain in effect for 30 days. DPS, together with EMO and the Office of the Mayor of the Northern Islands, is granted authority to enforce the off-limits ban.

The small volcano showed signs of abnormal activity, spewing thick black smoke and sulfuric haze during December 1998. This prompted immediate rescue of dozens of residents on the island, about 159 miles north of Saipan.

The Hawaii Volcanic Observatory earlier alerted the CNMI government about potential "major eruptions" on Alamagan based on the findings of the U.S. Geological Survey.

It has also urged the installation of a monitoring device on the island to provide an early warning system of an impending eruption.

A period of six to eight months is needed to make a definite assessment of the situation in Alamagan, which is one of the few inhabited islands in the north.

The last major eruptions in the Northern Marianas, a chain of volcanic rocks and formation in the Western Pacific, occurred in 1982 when a volcano in Pagan exploded after decades of inactivity.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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