'Huge explosion' rocks Caribbean volcano
La Soufriere volcano fired an enormous amount of ash and hot gas early Monday in the biggest explosive eruption yet since volcanic activity began on the eastern Caribbean island of St Vincent late last week, with officials worried about the lives of those who have refused to evacuate.
Experts called it a “huge explosion” that generated pyroclastic flows down the volcano’s south and southwest flanks.
“It’s destroying everything in its path,” Erouscilla Joseph, director of the University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Center said. “Anybody who would have not heeded the evacuation, they need to get out immediately.”
There were no immediate reports of injuries or death, but government officials were scrambling to respond to the latest eruption, which was even bigger than the first eruption that occurred Friday morning. Roughly 16,000 people who live in communities close to the volcano had been evacuated under government orders on Thursday, but an unknown number have remained behind and refused to move.
The latest explosion is equivalent to the one that occurred in 1902 and killed some 1,600. The volcano last erupted in 1979. Ash from the ongoing explosions has fallen on Barbados and other nearby islands.
Cots, tents, water tanks and other basic supplies were flooding into St Vincent as nearby nations rushed to help those affected by the eruptions. At least four empty cruise ships floated nearby, waiting to take evacuees to other islands who have agreed to temporarily receive them, including Antigua and Grenada. All government sea port employees were asked to report
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told local NBC Radio that his government will do everything possible to help those forced to abandon their homes in ash-filled communities.
“It’s a huge operation that is facing us,” he said. “It’s going to be costly, but I don’t want us to penny pinch ... this is going to be a long haul.”