Vincent warns of volcanic eruption, orders thousands to evacuate


Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises are sending ships to St. Vincent in the Caribbean to evacuate residents now at risk from a potential eruption of the island's La Soufriere volcano which has seen increasing activity in recent days.

St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalve issued an evacuation order after seismologists declared a "red alert" due to an impending eruption from La Soufrière.

This is a culmination of the seismic activity that began on April 8.

He made the announcement on the advice of the country's disaster officials, after Professor Richard Robertson, the lead scientist monitoring the volcano, reported further activity at La Soufriere.

The Vincentian volcanologist said the last period of tremor at the volcano was accompanied by periods of gas venting and a "significant pulsing of the volcano, which appears as if ... the volcano is trying to clear its throat..."

He said that the suggestion is that this magma is at or close to the surface and the possibility of the volcano moving to explosive has increased significantly, based on the activity being seen. The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) has raised the alert level to red, which means that an explosive eruption of the volcano is imminent.

It followed what he described as a heightened period of activity at the volcano.

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Premier David Burt today said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of St. Vincent & The Grenadines as they face the possible eruption of the volcano La Soufriere".

Robertson said this flow is one of the most risky things from a volcano like La Soufriere which is why people are moved off the mountain.

Forbes said that arrangements should be put in place to move elderly persons who need to move and that NEMO is working with agencies of government and the private sector to have things in place in the event of an evacuation.

He said that Barbados and St. Lucia are willing to receive evacuees, but they will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

An evacuation order has been ordered for the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, and Royal Caribbean has already sent a cruise ship to assist in evacuating residents.

It is the first volcanic eruption on Saint Vincent since 1979 - the worst one on record killed over 1,000 people in 1902.

Gonsalves added that he highly recommends those who opt to go to a shelter in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, an island chain of more than 100,000 people, be vaccinated.