EMERGENCY EXTENDED AS MARIANAS VOLCANO SPEWS

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SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 10) - Emergency Management
Director Rudy Pua will recommend the extension of the 30-day state of emergency
disaster for the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas that was announced
following the eruption of Anatahan in May.

Pua cited the U.S. Geological Survey and Hawaii Volcanology
Observatory report that the volcanic island still poses danger.

On Saturday, the volcanic island spewed columns of
"low-level ash" that rose at an estimated 8,500 feet above sea level.

Yesterday morning, U.S. scientists Randall White and Frank
Trusdell, along with local geophysics seismic technician Juan T. Camacho, said
an "explosive eruption" was still possible.

"I am going to ask the governor to extend the emergency
declaration," Pua said. "The volcano is still active and spewing
ashes. We want to be on safe side," he added.

In his May 13 state of disaster emergency proclamation, Babauta
said the volcanic island was unsafe for human habitation. Except for government
scientific missions and studies, all visits and trips to Anatahan have been
banned.

EMO and the U.S. scientists, who funded their own travel to the
CNMI, recently conducted a weeklong joint study of Anatahan.

Pua said he would also recommend the permanent relocation of
Anatahan residents.

"Safety here is a big issue. It will be difficult for
residents to return to Anatahan," he said.

Trusdell, White and Camacho presented their findings yesterday
on the state of the volcano.

They said there was a "lava extrusion" and a possible
"lava den" formed at the mouth of the island’s east side as a result
of its May 10 eruption. There was also a continuous low-moderate level of ash
eruption.

"Explosive eruption or eruptions" accompanied by a
"large eruptive column and pyroclastic flames" are possible, they
said.

If this occurs, ash cloud from the volcano will
"threaten" the aviation industry, they warned.

Trusdell said there is also a need for a geologic study of the
volcano.

Anatahan should have a "robust volcanic warning
system," the scientists said.

June 10, 2003

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com 

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