The La Soufrière volcano on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent erupted for the third time on Friday leading Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to request that the 20,000 residents in “red zones”, roughly 10% of the population, evacuate. Buses and cruise ships are being used in the evacuation efforts.
I have issued an evacuation order to all residents living in the RED ZONES on the North East and the North West of the island. All residents are asked to act accordingly with immediate effect to ensure their safety and that of their families. pic.twitter.com/AJQlCDtOPg
— Ralph Gonsalves (@ComradeRalph) April 8, 2021
The four cruise ships involved in the evacuation, provided by Royal Caribbean Cruises and Carnival Corp., are not requiring vaccinations but they are unable to accommodate the refugees.
Another explosion observed. The vertical ash column estimated to have gone approximately 4km into the atmosphere. We continue to monitor and update. #lasoufrière #volcano #svg #redalert #stilldangerous pic.twitter.com/anDIEb5lpD
— UWISeismic Research (@uwiseismic) April 9, 2021
But authorities are insisting that only vaccinated people can board the ships.
Second explosive eruption observed at 2:45 pm local time. Plume could be seen from the capital. The vertical ash column…
Posted by UWI Seismic Research Centre on Friday, April 9, 2021
”The chief medical officer would be identifying the persons already vaccinated so that we can get them on the ship,” Gonsvales told the media, explaining that said the cruise ships ”don’t have enough personnel” to manage the people on the ship but can only transport them.
Source: SVG TV
Situation in Sandy Bay, St Vincent which is in the red zone.#BTNewsYouCanTrust #volcano #lasoufriereeruption #svg#LeadingOnlineMedium #StaySafe #BTNews #BTEpaper #BarbadosTODAY pic.twitter.com/KzqKDQhrVy
— Barbados Today (@BarbadosToday) April 10, 2021
Hotels on neighboring islands that have agreed to receive refugees have also said that they will only accommodate the vaccinated. This is proving to be problematic as only 10,805 people of a total population of 110,600 have been vaccinated according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
As of Friday, 2,000 people were staying in 62 government shelters. Those staying in shelters were tested for COVID-19, and anyone testing positive would be taken to an isolation center.
Gonsalves said that private citizens across the Caribbean are offering their homes as temporary shelters.
“On this dangerous road to Jericho, we have good Samaritans,” he said to Bloomberg news.
The volcano had been dormant since 1979, but in December it started spewing steam and smoke, and making rumbling noises but the situation escalated on Thursday when a lava dome formed. Seismologists from the University of the West Indies confirmed that an “explosive eruption” was under way.
La Soufrière has had five recorded explosive eruptions since 1718An eruption in 1979 caused more than $100 million of damage on the island. The worst eruption on record, in 1902, killed more than 1,000 people.
The issue of COVID in evacuations has been incorporated in the guidelines set out by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the WHO, and the Red Cross. These restrictions were implemented in evacuations during hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Zeta as well as California’s Silverado Wildfire.