Press "Enter" to skip to content

St. Vincent covered in ash as volcano activity continues

BY: ANSELM GIBBS, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — Much of St. Vincent remains covered in ash following eruptions Friday at the island’s La Soufriere volcano.

The volcano has been inactive for nearly 42 years.

“There have been three explosive events that occurred during the day,” University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center director, Dr. Erouscilla Joseph, said in a statement on the center’s Facebook page.

The ash plume reached as high as six miles into the air, with wind taking it as far as 25,000 feet east of St. Vincent, according to official estimates.

Activity at the volcano continued into the weekend, with Vincentians reporting that rumblings could be heard coming from La Soufriere overnight.

“We have had more or less an almost continued period of the venting of many ash up into the atmosphere,” Richard Robertson, the UWI Seismic Research Center’s lead scientist monitoring the volcano, said Saturday during a national radio address.

On Sunday, the country’s national disaster management agency, NEMO, described the day as “dreary” and said everything looked like a “battle zone.”

The volcano set off tremors over the weekend, with some lasting as long as 20 minutes, according to the UWI Seismic Research Center.

Explosions and accompanying ashfall are likely to continue to over the next few days, the research center said.

Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said the government is looking to see if any properties were damaged by the ash. Officials are also trying to figure out how to remove the ash.

Gonsalves announced plans to mount a cleanup operation, beginning in Kingstown, the capital of St. Vincent, and the Grenadines.

“It’s a complicated business, you can’t leave it,” Gonsalves said. “But, in the disposal of it, you have challenges.”

Officials were looking into using street sweepers and water from fire trucks.

Friday’s eruptions came less than 24 hours after Gonsalves gave the order for people living closest to the volcano — an area declared as the “red zone” — to evacuate their homes.

Shelters have been set up to house evacuees, while the government has also booked hotel rooms for people to take shelter. Over 3,200 people have opted to use shelters.

Gonsalves said there may be delays in getting food supplies to evacuees in shelters, with numbers constantly changing.

Those impacted by the volcano’s eruption are being told to be patient and remain calm, with “additional supplies” coming, according to Gonsalves.

Some countries have also publicly pledged to send supplies or even personnel to aid St. Vincent with recovery efforts. Gonsalves said the United States is among those countries he’s been speaking with.

Shelters have been set up to house evacuees, while the government has also booked hotel rooms for people to take shelter. Over 3,200 people have opted to use shelters.

Gonsalves said there may be delays in getting food supplies to evacuees in shelters, with numbers constantly changing.

Those impacted by the volcano’s eruption are being told to be patient and remain calm, with “additional supplies” coming, according to Gonsalves.

Some countries have also publicly pledged to send supplies or even personnel to aid St. Vincent with recovery efforts. Gonsalves said the United States is among those countries he’s been speaking with.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.