An explosive eruption rocked La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent less than a day after volcanologists warned of the potential of such a disaster and as island officials rushed to evacuate the thousands of people most at risk.
The eruption shot a plume of ash nearly 5 miles into the sky. Ashfall had already reached the country’s airport on the opposite end of the island nation, the country’s disaster risk management agency said. There were no reports of injuries or deaths at this time.
The agency urged those living in the so-called “red zone” closest to the volcano to “leave immediately.”
Some 16,000 people were inside the red zone. Evacuations from the zone began Thursday night, leading to clogged roadways and shelters. Cruise ships were set to arrive later Friday to transport the evacuees away from the island. It’s unclear if evacuations were completed at the time of the eruption and what the plan is now.
Ash plumes up to 20,000 feet headed East. pic.twitter.com/82ZYpYdIhL— NEMO SVG (@NEMOSVG) April 9, 2021
Activity increased dramatically at the volcano starting Thursday. A series of earthquakes were detected at the site, indicating magma rising toward the surface, according to the West Indies Seismic Research Center. Gas and steam seeping from the volcano also started increasing, another harbinger of an eruption.
The volcano started oozing lava in December 2020. It was the first activity at La Soufrière since 1979 when there was another explosive eruption. That event unleashed devastating pyroclastic flows.
Source: Weather Channel