Volcano eruption in Caribbean prompts mass evacuation during popular vacation week

Another explosion at La Soufriere scientists expect more

An explosive eruption of the La Soufriere volcano rocked the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent on Friday.

At the time of publishing, no evacuation order has as yet been issued, but the volcano's activity continues to be closely tracked, and several of the country's Caribbean Community (CARICOM) neighbours have already pledged to assist should there be an eruption, in which case, as many as 20,000 people may have to be immediately evacuated.

The eruption column was estimated to have reached 10 kilometres high, the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre said, warning other explosive eruptions could occur.

Ash fall has been recorded as far from the volcano as Argyle International Airport, St Vincent's National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) said.

He said two Royal Caribbean cruise ships and two Carnival Cruise Line ones are expected to arrive on Friday.

The professor said one of the main hazards for St Vincent is pyroclastic flows where instead of material being pushed into the atmosphere, it collapses back on the volcano and goes down the mountainside and maybe the valleys.

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"Of course, large numbers of persons still would have to stay in the shelters but the more we get persons who can go into homes and who can go into the hotels and the guest houses, whether here or outside of St Vincent and the Grenadines, we should do so".

Evacuees were taken to cruise ships and safer parts of the island.

Government officials tweeted that the dome of the volcano located on the island's northern region could be seen glowing by nightfall. I don't want us to get frustrated, I don't want us to panic.

He explained that with very little notice, the authorities in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines may need to move people out of harm's way.

The prime minister said that his government has been in contact with friendly nations, including the United States, Cuba, and Venezuela to discuss possible assistance.

Gonsalves indicated that other Caribbean countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and St Kitts and Nevis have also offered support. The worst eruption on record, in 1902, killed more than 1,000 people.

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