On this day: a Disaster in Montserrat

Montserrat_Plymouth_Street_LampAsh piled streetlamp high on the Streets of Plymouth (1999). Photo by Gary Mark Smith. Volcanic Eruption.

The aftermath of the disaster, photographed in 1999.

Human settlement on the Caribbean island and British Overseas Territory of Montserrat was changed forever on the 25th of June, 1997. Following a couple of years of volcanic activity, on this day a series of pyroclastic flows and lahars (mudslides or debris flows) devastated the capital, Plymouth.

Residents of Plymouth and other settlements had been evacuated some time earlier, but had moved back when the disaster occurred. Nineteen people died before residents were evacuated again – this time permanently.

Today Plymouth is a ghost town. Following the disaster more than two-thirds of the island’s population left. Most did not return.

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On this day: a Rescue from the Rubble

Thredbo Landslide. 2nd August 1997. This photograph was taken moments after Stuart Diver was freed from the rubble after spending 65 hours buried in the rubble. Mr Diver lost his first w

After spending sixty-five hours trapped in freezing conditions in the rubble of the Thredbo landslide, Stuart Diver was pulled alive from his collapsed ski lodge on the evening of the 2nd of August, 1997.

Eighteen people, including Diver’s wife, were killed when the land at the New South Wales, Australia ski resort collapsed, sending over 1000 tonnes of earth and debris down on top of the village.

Despite his discovery providing hope more survivors might be found, Diver was the last person found alive in the rubble.

Diver’s second wife also died, of cancer in 2015.

On this day: the Thredbo Landslide

1997 Thredbo Landslide

At 11:35pm on the 30th of July, 1997, a landslide hit the ski village of Thredbo in New South Wales, Australia.

Eighteen people were killed as two ski lodges were destroyed by over 1000 tonnes of earth and debris.

Famously, ski instructor Stuart Diver survived in the freezing conditions of a collapsed building until his rescue on the evening of the 2nd of August. His wife Sally was beside him in the wreckage but drowned when she became trapped in a depression that filled with water.