Holding on in a crisis
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Holding on in a crisis

The recent volcanic eruptions on the Caribbean island of Montserrat have brought death to its inhabitants, destroyed several towns and villages, and forced the evacuation of over half the island's 11,000 population. But despite the turmoil, Royal Bank of Canada is not leaving - yet.

Although the bank's main branch in the capital, Plymouth, has been destroyed, a temporary branch has been set up in the town of Olveston to provide banking services for the remaining islanders.

"Since Barclays Bank pulled out on August 28, we have become the only fully functional financial institution on Montserrat. Almost all of the money that is flowing in and out of the island is going through us," says a spokesman for the bank.

Barclays was forced to move when it could not find appropriate premises in a safe enough area, and is managing its business from the neighbouring island of Antigua. But although Royal Bank of Canada has managed to maintain a presence on Montserrat, the spokesman admits that there is still a danger to the bank's staff from exposure to volcanic ash.

The bank is assessing the options, and may consider moving further into the safe zone of the island.

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