Over the past days a strange, but not unusual, phenomenon has been taking place in the French overseas department of Martinique which is being closely monitored by the authorities there.
The river bed in Prêcheur, Martinique has been flooded with mud coming from Mt. Pelée which is an active volcano.
The authorities are closely monitoring the activities asking the persons living in the immediate vicinity and neighboring villages to be prepared if they are called to evacuate.
According to Martinique 1ère, 300 residents of the neighborhoods of Abymes, Pohie and Coquette were evacuated on Thursday night as a result of the mudslides, called “lahars,” which were much larger than previous days. On Friday morning (January 12), they were allowed to return home but they were told to be vigilant.
According to volcanologists monitoring the activities, the ‘lahars’ are not new to the area.
It is “the most unstable area of the mountain and it still bears the scars of events that occurred more than a hundred thousand years ago,” according to Valérie Clouart, director of the Volcano Observatory Center.
It is believed that the mudslides were caused by heavy rain, which affected Martinique during the Christmas weekend. Authorities have said they are not due to seismic or volcanic activities.
There was a previous occurrence of the same kind, “on the 19th and 20th of June 2010, where twenty houses in Prêcheur were affected without causing loss of life,” said the director of the Observatory.
On the 8th of May, 1902 Mt. Pelée unleashed an eruption that killed approximately 30,000 people, the highest death toll of any volcanic activity in the twentieth century. The volcano had been giving warning signs for days, but the government did not take heed because it did not want anything to interfere with its upcoming election. The volcano wiped out the entire town of St Pierre, leaving only three people alive.