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7/30/2007

Oldonyo L'engai Residents Refuse to Vacate Area

Tanzania
Members of the Maasai community living around Oldonyo L'engai mountain of Ngorongoro have refused to vacate the area, despite recent advisory from local authorities, that the active volcano in the vicinity may erupt due to ongoing tremors. The local residents said that some experts have just assured them that the volcanic mountain will not erupt in two centuries time. The Maasai have also expressed their surprise regarding what they described as recent 'speculations' that the L'engai Volcano had both 'erupted' and 'caused damage.' The residents refuted reports of serious eruption, though they admitted that the Mountain had been releasing some fumes in the last ten days. Being the epicenter for the ongoing series of earthquakes, the area around the L'engai has been suffering from constant tremors and rumblings, however as far as the local residents are concerned, it is a 'normal' occurrence and doesn't necessarily spell danger. As it happens, the entire area surrounding both Oldonyo L'engai and the adjacent Lake Natron have, since last week, been experiencing a number gigantic earth movements resulting in rocks catapulting into the air. Oldonyo L'engai is the only volcano in the world that erupts Natro-carbonatite, a highly fluid lava, containing almost no silicon. About 15 tremors have so far rocked the area and out of those 13 were minor quakes, while the two that struck on July 15 were so big that some of the ridges criss-crossing the vast landscape cracked and threw out huge rocks, some of which hit and damaged a number of residential houses in the vicinity. Similar incidents have been reported in Engaruka parts of Monduli where the surrounding hills have been sending huge rocks down due to the quakes. However reports were refuted that some school buildings in Engaruka had collapsed due to the volcano. Only one house suffered deep cracks but it was due to tremors, not the volcano. Two girls of Orkum village were hit by rocks while drawing water from a deep valley. The tremors caused the rock above to fall below where the children were. They both suffered only minor injuries. This is also contrary to some reports that the children had been scalded by volcanic lava. A March 2006 major volcanic eruption was the first ferocious eruption to be recorded since
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