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Piparo mud volcano awakens after 14 years

Published: 
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Mud from the volcano pitches up in the air. Photos: Rishi Ragoonath

Residents of Piparo are living on the edge as the mud volcano that ravaged the village 14 years ago, has begun to threaten their community again. Residents are subjected to sleepless nights as they are haunted with memories of February 22, 1997, when steaming mud crushed houses and swept away cars, livestock and all else in its path. When the Sunday Guardian visited the site off Old Piparo Road yesterday, two new mounds had surfaced, spewing mud several feet into the air at five minute intervals. At the scene was Shammarine Kissoondath, 56, who lives nearby. He said he came to see what was happening as he had been kept awake by strange sounds issuing from the volcano.

He said: “It sounded like gunshots and this morning when I awoke it was still making noise. This is the same sound it made before it erupted in 1997. It is possible that we can have a repeat and maybe this time it could be worse.” He said it only took ten minutes on that fateful day for the massive amount of mud spewing from the volcano to wreak havoc. Boyie Suratt, who lives about 300 feet from the volcano said he, too, has been sleeping restlessly since Thursday. Suratt’s home is nearest the volcano and he said while he does not believe that it will erupt any time soon, no one can predict when and how severe another eruption might be.

“I was home in my gallery around 3 am on Thursday and I heard this sound like people bursting bamboo. We usually get a little noise now and then, especially when it rains because gas is trying to escape. But now the noise has been coming frequently like it have plenty gas down there.” He explained that the rain softens the mud which causes minor explosions. However, he admits that over the past few days the noise levels had increased significantly occurring at an alarming rate. He, too, recalled the drama that unfolded in 1997, saying that a wave of mud several feet high was crumbling any house in its path. Suratt said his home was saved as another house that crumbled was able to forge a barrier in front of his. He said on February 22, 1997, he awoke to mud spewing some 200 feet into the air.