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The spire of the local church protrudes from a layer of ash, mud and rock which decended on the former capital of the island during a pyroclastic flow from the volcanic eruption in 1995.  The Soufriere Hills volcano began erupting in July 1995, and remained active through the subsequent decade.  Up to 7,000 of the 10,500 inhabitants have been evacuated from the island, while other residents have been moved to the northernmost areas.  The southern region affected by the eruption is designated out of bounds to everyone except scientists.