On 20 May 2006, the huge lava dome at the summit of the\ud Soufriere Hills volcano on Montserrat in the West Indies\ud collapsed, sending clouds of ash and gas 20 kilometres up\ud into the atmosphere. Pyroclastic flows of hot gas, ash and rock swept out of the horseshoe-shaped crater into the Tar River valley, and small tsunamis hit Antigua and Guadeloupe. There were no casualties because seriously affected areas had been evacuated long ago, though significant damage was caused by massive clouds of ash falling on farmland and property. Despite the misery of ash clean-up and the loss of animals and crops, this was a well-timed collapse given the circumstances at the volcano. If it had happened any later the consequences\ud could have been much worse.\u
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