Mandatory emergency evacuations of thousands were ordered on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent after La Soufrière volcano erupted Friday rocketing ash plumes up 20,000 feet and headed to the east. St. Vincent is the largest island of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines chain in the Caribbean. Ash fall were recorded as far as Argyle International Airport. “Ash has begun to fall on the flanks of the volcano and surrounding communities including Chateaubelair and Petite Bordel. Some has gone offshore and has even reached the Observatory,” they wrote alongside a set of photos showing the ash plumes,” wrote the Seismic Research Centre of the University of the West Indies. It’s expected more explosions could follow.
Carnival Cruise Lines is sending two ships — the Carnival Paradise and the Carnival Legend — to evacuate residents. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are each sending one ship. The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the efforts. those seeking refuge aboard a cruise ship or another island would have to be vaccinated. The islands of St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Antigua said they would accept evacuees. The eruption comes after days of seismic activity recorded in the area. The volcano last erupted 42 years ago and in 1902 killed about 1,600 people. St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on Thursday declared a disaster alert. Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley offered assistance.