Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 14th 2018 Contents news A5
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
RADHICA DE SILVA
Hours after it began spitting
gas, the Devil’s Woodyard mud
volcano erupted before dawn yes-
terday, leaving residents cowering
in their homes.
The rumbles and explosions
shook the community of Hindu-
stan, New Grant, around 4.20 am
and again at 8.52 am. Some 40
people had to be evacuated.
The first eruption lasted for
about 20 seconds before the
heaps of volcanic sulphuric dirt
began spewing about 20 feet in
The second lasted about five
seconds and went up about 10
feet in the air. The volcanic dirt,
which measured about 15 feet in
height, covered an expanse of
three acres after the eruptions.
Fire substation officer Marvin
Richardson yesterday called on
residents to evacuate their homes
and remove their vehicles from
the area, saying this posed a haz-
Despite the call, hundreds of
people flocked to the scene hop-
ing to catch a glimpse of the erup-
tion. Eventually, police cordoned
off the area and prevented anyone
from entering Hindustan Road.
Caretaker Premchand Boochoon
said he knew the volcano would
erupt since Carnival Monday.
Having been a witness to the
last eruption in 1995, Boochoon
said he became concerned when
he noticed the cracks stretching
from the crater to the walkway.
“It was bubbling up a lot more
than usual and it was hissing. I
knew something was going to
happen and this is why I didn’t
stay there last night. I went home
and sure enough it erupted this
morning,” Boochoon said.
Resident Tara Pooranlal said
her family was liming on the out-
skirts of the Devil’s Woodyard
play park until 1 am oblivious to
Around 4.30 am, after she re-
turned home, she began hearing
explosions like gunshots, followed
by a loud rumbling which resem-
bled the sound of an air plane tak-
“It was louder than an air
plane, much scarier. I realised
the volcano was erupting. There
was a hissing noise and the house
began to shake. I wanted to go out
and see what was happening but I
was too scared. This is not some-
thing you want to experience,”
The toilet area near the volcanic
site sank a few feet, while the
cobble stones from the walkway
leading to the site were severely
Cracks developed about 2,000
metres from the bubbling crater,
which looked as if it was swirling
when viewed from above using
drone photographs captured by
CNC3 cameraman Ivan Toolsie.
The ODPM cleared residents to
return to their homes last night.
may be linked
Seismologist at the University of
the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Re-
search Centre, Dr Joan Lutchman,
says recent earthquakes could have
contributed to the eruption of the
Devil’s Woodyard mud volcano,
which had stayed dormant for 22
years before yesterday’s eruptions.
In an interview with the T&T
Guardian yesterday, Lutchman said
the seismic team visited the site in
Hindustan to do more research.
However, she said the UWI Geolog-
ical Unit was the authority to make
pronouncements on the volcano.
Asked whether the recent earth-
quakes to hit T&T had spurred on
the volcanic activity, Lutchman
said this was a possibility, as tec-
tonic activity can affect volcanoes.
“Earthquakes and volcanic ac-
tivity are indeed connected. In this
case it is a possibility, but more
research has to be done because
we have not had a lot of these phe-
nomenons to make a detailed pro-
nouncement,” Lutchman said.
Members of the Geological Unit
stayed at the volcanic site for sev-
eral hours yesterday. Up to late last
evening there were no more erup-
tions, but residents said they had
already packed bags in case they
needed to make a quick exit.
The volcano first erupted in 1852,
shaking the entire village and fell-
ing tall trees. Villagers at the time
believed that the Devil had come
from beneath the earth to fell the
woods and this was how the area
became known as Devil’s Wood-
In 1993, it was adopted as a recre-
ational site by the Princes Town Re-
gional Corporation, but two years
later, in 1995, it erupted again,
causing sulphuric dirt to cover the
picnic sheds. The site became run
down over the years but was again
No facilities were destroyed in
the latest eruption, which resi-
dents say was worse than the one
in 1995. The site continues to bring
in revenue for the corporation, as
it is rented to churches and other
groups for recreation.
According to the earthquake
tracker website https://earthqua-
bago/recent, T&T has experienced
seven earthquakes in the last 30
days. The last occurred two days
ago, a 4.2 magnitude quake at a
50 km depth. Eighteen days ago,
another 4.9 magnitude earthquake
occurred in the Point Fortin region
at a 32 km depth.
Princes Town Regional Corpo-
ration chairman Gowrie Roopna-
rine says the corporation has set
up two emergency shelters at the
Hindustan School and the Hindu-
stan Community Centre to assist
those who wanted to evacuate in
the wake of the eruption of the
Devil’s Woodyard mud volcano
“There are 25 houses within a
mile and a half radius who are in
the direct zone, so we have pro-
vided these shelters to them,”
Expressing relief that no-one
was injured, Roopnarine said he
had alerted the Office of Disaster
Preparedness and the University
of the West Indies Seismic Unit
about the eruption.
A team from the Environmental
Management Authority arrived on
the scene around 11 am and began
doing air quality tests.
Head of the municipal police,
WP Insp Alexander Sankar, said
police were working to keep on-
lookers out of the danger zone.
Saying the volcano showed signs
of further eruptions, Alexan-
der-Sankar reiterated the call for
citizens to stay away from the Hin-
dustan area. Meanwhile, ODPM
head Capt Neville Wint said res-
idents were allowed to return to
their homes after officials of the
University of the West Indies Geo-
logical Unit and the EMA declared
toxicity levels low.
“The officials said the flamma-
bility levels were also low and
toxicity levels were minimum so
it is safe for residents who live in
close proximity to re-enter their
homes.” However, Wint said the
volcanic site was still active not-
ing that the roadway to the Dev-
il’s Woodyard Site remains closed
except for local traffic.
Citizens were advised to avoid
the area at this time, as fresh mud
and gases continue to secrete
from the crater of the volcano.
Residents stand outside the recreation area of Devil’s Woodyard. RIGHT: EMA officers Allen St Clair, left, and Anil
Bandoo test the air quality at Devil’s Woodyard mud volcano after it erupted at Hindustan, Princes Town, yesterday.
PICTURES KRISTIAN DE SILVA
An aerial image of
the Devil’s Woodyard
mud volcano which
PICTURE IVAN TOOLSIE
PTRC sets up 2 shelters
Devil’s Woodyard volcano erupts twice
n Citizens with any questions or
concerns can contact the ODPM’s
Customer Care Centre at 511
or visit its website www.odpm.
gov.tt for further updates.
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