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The continuing eruption of the La Soufriere volcano in the Caribbean island of St.Vincent was causing major disruptions Saturday, with some 16,000 residents being evacuated from the “Red Zone” near the volcano. So far no casualties have been reported.
Heavy clouds of ashes are still going up thousands of meters in the air since the eruption commenced on Friday. Ashes are now reportedly reaching neighboring islands. The Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Granadines, Ralph Gonsalves, toured the northern side of the island Saturday, evaluating the damage and coordinating rescue and evacuation efforts with the country’s security forces. Neighboring Venezuela, Barbados, Trinidad&Tobago and Guyana have rushed navy vessels with emergency relief, which will start arriving on Sunday, Gonsalves reported.
“I’m in touch with the the World Bank, Americans, with Britain, I spoke with the people of the US Southern Command, a very important resource... We are coordinating things”, Gonsalves said. Local media reported that some residents seem reluctant to leave the Red Zone. Gonçalves advised everybody to leave. The heavy layer of ash falling on the island “is a very serious problem. It’s going to be massive over the next few days and weeks and seismologists don’t know how long it will take before it stops”, the PM said.
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
La Soufriere had been inactive since 1979. After a lava dome was visible on top of the crater on Thursday, University of West Indies seismologists warned that an eruption was imminent. Most islands in the Eastern Caribbean are pàrt of a large volcanic chain.