Photo Credit: Photo Credit: George Apodaca
St. Vincent Volcano Erupts, Thousands Of Residents To Evacuate
The National Emergency Management Organization of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has confirmed that the La Soufrière volcano has erupted, causing thousands to evacuate the northern tip of the island.
Empty cruise ships from Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines are expected to arrive on Friday to transport the evacuees from St. Vincent to neighboring eastern Caribbean islands including Barbados, Grenada, and St. Lucia. Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago have also indicated a willingness to provide assistance if necessary. Others sought safety at various shelters.
The government ordered a mandatory evacuation of thousands of residents living in the red zones on the North East and the North West of the island. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves implored residents to move with urgency to ensure their safety and that of their families.
“This is an emergency situation, and everybody understands that,” he said.
La Soufrière has violently erupted on four previous occasions, the last being in 1979. The 1902 eruption is the deadliest to date. Over 1600 people were killed and the indigenous Carib population was decimated. This occurred mere hours before the eruption of Mount Pelée on the French island of Martinique that killed 29,000. There 19 live volcanoes in the eastern Caribbean, 17 of which are located on 11 islands. Two are submerged near Grenada. As recently as 2018, The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center in Trinidad warned of increased activity at Kick ’em Jenny, located about five miles off the island.
However, Soufrière Hills in Montserrat was the most active volcano in the past 30 years. It has erupted continuously since 1995 resulting in the destruction of the capital of Plymouth and the burial of most of the Southern part of the island under mud and ash. A subsequent eruption in June 1997 killed 19 and the island’s airport was completely destroyed.