The La Soufriere Volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines continues to erupt, with the latest explosive eruption including a massive pyroclastic density taking place at 4.15 am on Monday.
According to information from the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) director Michelle Forbes, this was one of the largest eruptions to date.
This flow has destroyed La Soufriere’s pre-existing domes (1979 and 2020-21) and the current explosions are being generated from a new vent.
National Geographic defines a pyroclastic flow as a dense, fast-moving flow of solidified lava pieces, volcanic ash and hot gases.
It is extremely hot, between 200 to 700 degrees Celsius, burning anything in its path and may move at speeds as high as 200 miles an hour. Pyroclastic flows destroy anything in their paths and people cannot outrun them because of their high speeds.
The University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre said since midday on April 11, the time between episodes of high-amplitude tremor has lengthened from one and a half to four hours to five to eight hours. The Seismic Research Centre said episodes continue to coincide with periods of enhanced venting or explosive activity and small volcano-tectonic earthquakes were recorded starting around 6 pm on April 11.
The explosions and accompanying ash fall are likely to continue to occur over the next few days. The UWI Seismic Research Centre said these events may be similar to larger in magnitude.
But, the island’s Police Commissioner Colin John who spoke to CNC3’s the Morning Brew yesterday said there are still some people in the red and orange zones close to the volcano who do not want to evacuate.
He said so far, there have been no reports of any deaths but there are areas that are completely cut off because of ashfall and a significant number of people have been displaced or relocated.
He said there was not much the police could do to physically remove those who do not want to leave.
“The government may have to issue a state of emergency I don’t know if that’s a path that the government may choose to go, that is beyond me, but absent of that, we cannot literally lift them up and bring them out of the zone,” John said.
And Caricom nations and other countries are lining up to assist Vincentians.
Minister of National Security Stuart Young said 50 soldiers from the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force are expected to sail to St Vincent today on the Galleons Passage to carry supplies and assist the island.
The vessel will also bring home T&T citizens who are in St Vincent. On Sunday St Vincent and the Grenadines Finance Minister, Camillo Gonzales, wrote to T&T’s Foreign Affairs Minister Amery Browne.
Gonzales said a number of homes have been destroyed so far by the eruptions. Gonzales said most crops on the island and untold livestock will also be lost.
He said the immediate danger is the comfort, care and safety of evacuees. Gonsalves said immediate needs are water, bedding, respiratory equipment and supplies, and sanitary products for babies/elderly/women.
Several local NGO’s have started collecting relief items to ship to the SVG in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves took to his Twitter account yesterday to announce help from Venezuela. He said, “Our brothers and sisters from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela have come to our aid, sending a ship with much-needed supplies and equipment. We are eternally grateful for the generosity of Comrade @NicolasMaduro , the government and people of Venezuela.”
Dr Gonsalves also used the social media platform to thank his St Kitts and Nevis counterpart Dr Timothy Harris, who pledged $1 million EC in financial support, to accept 300 Vincentians to stay on the island, troops for peacekeeping and other forms of assistance.
The SVG Prime Minister said, “Thank you my brother @pmharriskn and the people of St Kitts and Nevis for the generous pledge of support during this very challenging situation facing us here in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.”
The United Kingdom has also joined the list of countries ready to assist and has provided an initial £200,000, via the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to support the regional response, through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).