Saint Vincent awaits more volcanic explosions as help arrives


Baby cots, tents and breathing masks spilled into the island of St. Vincent in the eastern Caribbean, as officials are expected to start distributing them on Saturday, a day after a powerful explosion on the La volcano. Soufrière uprooted the lives of thousands of people who evacuated their homes under the government. orders.

Countries ranging from Antigua to Guyana have offered to help by shipping emergency supplies to their neighbor or agreeing to temporarily open their borders to some 16,000 evacuees fleeing ash-covered communities with as many personal belongings as they could in suitcases and backpacks.

The volcano, which last erupted in 1979, continued to rumble as experts warned explosive eruptions could continue for days or even weeks. A previous eruption in 1902 killed some 1,600 people.

“The first bang is not necessarily the biggest bang this volcano will give,” said Richard Robertson, a geologist at the University of the West Indies Center for Seismic Research, at a press conference.


Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves called on people to stay calm, have patience and continue to protect themselves from the coronavirus as he celebrated that no deaths or injuries were reported after the eruption in the tip north of Saint Vincent, which is part of an island chain that includes the Grenadines. and is home to over 100,000 people.

“Agriculture will be badly affected, and we could have animal losses, and we will have to make repairs to houses, but if we have life, and we have the strength, we will build it back better, stronger, together.” , he said in an interview with NBC Radio, a local station.

SOUFRIERE VOLCANO, SAINT VINCENT.  (Photo by Jean-Marc LECERF / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

SOUFRIERE VOLCANO, SAINT VINCENT. (Photo by Jean-Marc LECERF / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Gonsalves said depending on the damage from the blast, life could take up to four months to return to normal. 2,000 people were staying in 62 government shelters on Friday while four empty cruise ships floated nearby, waiting to transport other evacuees to nearby islands. Those staying in shelters were being tested for COVID-19, and anyone who tested positive would be taken to an isolation center.

The first explosion happened on Friday morning, a day after the government ordered mandatory evacuations based on warnings from scientists who noted some type of seismic activity before dawn on Thursday, which meant the magma was seeping into was moving near the surface. The explosion sent a column of ash more than seven kilometers into the sky, with lightning crackling through the towering cloud of smoke on Friday night.

Volcanic activity forced the cancellation of several flights while ashfall limited evacuations in some areas due to poor visibility. Officials have warned that Barbados, Saint Lucia and Grenada may see light ash falls as the 4,003-foot (1,220-meter) volcano continues to rumble. Most of the ash is expected to move northeast into the Atlantic Ocean.

La Soufrière had already had an effusive eruption in December, prompting experts in the region to fly and analyze the formation of a new volcanic dome and changes to its crater lake, among others.


The Eastern Caribbean has 19 living volcanoes, including two submarines near the island of Grenada. One of these, Kick ‘Em Jenny, has been active in recent years. But the most active volcano of all is Soufrière in Montserrat. It has erupted continuously since 1995, razing the capital of Plymouth and killing at least 19 people in 1997.

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