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Scientists evacuated from Sarigan isle

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 1, 2010) – SEVEN scientists from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and the CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife were evacuated from Sarigan after a submarine volcano south of the island erupted at around midnight on Friday.

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial issued an emergency declaration restricting travel to the island, except for approved scientific missions.

The U.S. Geological Society placed Sarigan under alert level watch on Sunday.

Yesterday, the seismic activity was low according to Robert McGimsgy, a USGS volcanologist. "Although the situation could change very quickly," he added.

There was a short-lived seismic event that happened about three to four minutes in the middle of the night, McGimsgy said in a telephone interview.

The seven scientists from DFW and USFW, who were working on the island, heard a lot of explosions and saw a heavy eruption cloud soaring to the sky, McGimsgy said.

They were evacuated to Saipan on Sunday.

The Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center reported an eruption cloud 40,000 feet high.

The cloud may contain ash but could be largely water vapor and appears to be shrinking as northerly winds carry it toward the CNMI and Guam.

No additional volcanic clouds have been detected and it is unknown if submarine activity is continuing, USGS said.

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