On this day: Mount Lamington Erupts

On the 18th of January, 1951 Mount Lamington in Papua New Guinea, just north of Australia, began to erupt.

A jeep stuck up a tree. From the collection of the National Library of Australia, Canberra.

On the 18th of January, 1951 Mount Lamington in Papua New Guinea, just north of Australia, began to erupt.

The worst of the devastation came three days later when a violent blast led to the deaths of some 3000 people, and left more than 5000 homeless.

The following year Australian vulcanologist Tony Taylor was awarded the George Cross for his work during the disaster.

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.