The Caribbean: St. Vincent volcano La Soufrière erupts

A volcanic eruption has covered the East Caribbean island of St Vincent in ash and smoke.

The volcano named La Soufrière, the Sulphur Mine in English, had been dormant for over forty years. It first started showing volcanic activity before Christmas last year and seismic activity since then has increased daily up until the Friday eruption.

On Thursday night, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves declared a red disaster alert, warning of the imminent eruption of the La Soufrière volcano. Gonsalves urged over 16,000 St. Vincent residents in the designated red danger zones near the volcano to quickly evacuate.

In an interview with local radio, the PM said that the evacuation would badly affect farming, and there might be loss of animals. He added that, houses will also have to repaired that have been affected by the eruption.

But he reassured residents that there were no fatalities and was hopeful for the future, “If we have life, and we have strength, we will build it back better, stronger, together.” he said.

The volcano has since thrown up ash plumes rising nearly 4 miles into the air.
The first sign that the volcano was about to erupt was on Thursday night, when a burning lava dome, a glowing mound of lava, became visible.

Then, just before 9 am, St. Vincent time on Friday, seismological researchers from the University of the West Indies forecast that an “explosive eruption” was about to happen.

Those evacuated from the areas threatened by the volcanic activity were taken to cruise ships and other parts of the island that are thought to be safe.

St. Vincent is part of the Lesser Antilles group of islands which is part of a volcanic arc in the east of the Caribbean.

The last eruption of La Soufrière was in 1979. The worst recorded eruption was in 1902 when over 1,000 people were killed.