Residents not evacuating in Piparo

The Piparo mud volcano seems ready to blow yet most residents have refused to evacuate.

Torn between the threat of the impending eruption and the possibility of floods associated with Tropical Storm Karen, Piparo residents opted to stay in their homes on Sunday rather than evacuate.

The Piparo Community Centre was identified as an emergency shelter and despite torrential rains, members of he Couca/ Tabaquite/ Talpari Regional Corporation were out advising residents to evacuate.

However, many families opted not to. Instead, they packed their cars with emergency food supplies, clothing, medicine and important documents in case they had to make a hasty retreat.

During an interview with Guardian Media, one resident Hanifha Karim who lives about half a mile from the volcano said her family was on standby ready to move if the need arose. Saying she was petrified that the volcano will erupt and cover part of the village as it did on February 22, 1997, Karim said she was concerned also about the storm and whether leaving their home will bring greater problems.

"We just waiting to see what is happening. We really scared now, " she said.

Another resident Annalisa Solomon said they too had parked and were going to seek refuge at the community centre. 

"We have been speaking to the councillor and we have already packed up our stuff to go to the shelter, " Solomon said.

Chairman Henry Awong said up to 2 pm only the Solomon family had agreed to evacuate. He said teams have been working with the villagers to prepare for any eventuality.

Meanwhile, senior scientist from Touchstone Exploration Xavier Moonan called on the government to barricade the area. He said drone surveys done on the volcano's crater and fissures reveal it was about to blow.

Moonan and his team toured the volcano on Sunday morning, hours after residents reported seeing fissures and cracks around the area. 

Similar to the reports given before the last eruption, residents reported hearing sounds like gunshots.

Moonan said just as they predicted lastly, the volcano was showing signs that its slumber was coming to an end.

"We just drone surveyed the mud volcano. We should advise people to not venture onto it at least. It looks like it may blow very soon. We are seeing up to two feet of motion on some fractures, " Moonan said.

In May, the geoscientist reported interesting changes on the surface and subsurface of the volcanic vents which erupted on February 22, 1997, displacing 31 families and killing livestock and birds.

During the eruption, thick warm liquid mud spewed up to 200ft in the air. The expanse of volcanic dirt-covered an area of 2.5 km.

 - by Radhica De Silva.

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