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La Soufriere day-two explosive eruption, mass evacuation

By Caribbean News Global contributor

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — Thick plumes of volcanic ash and renewed expositions continued overnight, as the island is blanketed with low visibility, amid mass evacuation.

Nearby islands of Saint Lucia and Barbados are currently experiencing volcanic ash. This is also likely to affect small craft, marine and air traffic in the vicinity.

Grantley Adams International Airport has advised that the airport is currently closed until at least 6 am Sunday, April 11.

Meanwhile, the government of Saint Lucia is assisting 136 OECS citizens, who are part of the seasonal agricultural workers’ programme, as they were stranded in St Vincent and the Grenadines, as a result of the eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano.

The agricultural workers, 95 Vincentians, 18 Saint Lucians and 23 Grenadians, were en route to Canada for employment on the seasonal agricultural workers’ programme when their flight from St Vincent to Canada was cancelled. The workers arrived via Cruise Ship “Serenade of the Seas” on Saturday morning and will remain in Saint Lucia for a few days until they can board a flight to Canada. 

La Soufrière scientific update – April 10, 2021 9:00 AM

  • The tremor generated by energetic venting of La Soufrière, St Vincent continued overnight.
  • The size of the tremor peaked between 8 pm and midnight on 9 April and slowly declined over the next few hours.
  • There were some periods of increased amplitude (size) during the decline, associated with pulses in the ash venting.
  • A small number of volcano-tectonic, long-period and hybrid earthquakes have been recorded during the tremor.
  • Audible rumblings accompanied by ash venting occurred throughout most of the night with ashfall reported throughout St. Vincent and some areas in Barbados.
  • The volcano has entered an explosive eruptive phase that may continue over the next few days and weeks. Explosions are expected to be of similar or larger magnitude.

Source: The UWI Seismic Research Centre

UWI expertise mobilised for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles has reached out to prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves assuring that the University stands ready to mobilise any additional support needed in the wake of the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano.

The scientific experts of The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC) have been deployed on the island since December 2020 when activity on the Volcano was first detected. Over the past few months, scientific teams have been in rotation, providing ongoing monitoring and updates to prime minister Gonsalves and working closely with the country’s National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), and offering the critical science data to help the Government and its agencies in shaping public policy and response plans.

On April 8, the team recorded tremors and elevated periods of steam and gas venting and on April 9, the volcano moved to an explosive phase with magma extrusion, tremor and volcano-tectonic (VT) seismic activity. The UWI-SRC scientists have been critical to the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ activation of alert levels and evacuation and other decision-making in the emergency management process as the situation evolves.

Prime minister Gonsalves has thanked The UWI for this extraordinary national support and asked the question: “What would have happened to us had it not been for The UWI’s Seismic Team?”

The UWI’s Five Islands Campus, having delivered technical training programmes in Disaster Management for the OECS, along with The UWI Open Campus, will be spearheading the immediate relief efforts from the University. Already, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Open Campus, Dr Luz Longsworth has mobilised a team from the Campus Site, located on the ground in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, to engage with the University by the hour and a UWI Saint Vincent and the Grenadines support group has been established under the leadership of head of The UWI Open Campus on the island, Deborah Dalrymple, with coordination support from acting deputy principal of The UWI Open Campus, Dr Francis Severin. The support group will soon provide banking information to the regional public and university system on sending financial relief for the nation.

As he continues to maintain contact with prime minister Gonsalves, Vice-Chancellor Beckles has indicated that all UWI Campuses are mobilised to provide technical capacity and general support as required and he has committed to visiting the island as soon as logistically possible.

A statement from the Honourable Chief Justice Her Ladyship, Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, LL.D. on the Eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, reads in part: 

“The eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano which occurred on the morning of Friday, April 9, 2021 has potential for destruction and has already caused significant displacement. It has also occurred in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a most challenging time for several of our Member States and Territories facing the uphill task of reducing the transmission of the virus, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines being no exception. For many, processing this event will be deeply personal and traumatic. I encourage the people of the Eastern Caribbean to find ways for us as individuals and as a region to provide support to our brothers and sisters in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. We must remember that we are our brothers and sisters’ keepers.

“As Chief Justice, I pray that the Almighty God bestows his strength and resilience onto the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the face of yet another unfamiliar challenge. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court stands in solidarity with them and is committed to providing its full support in their recovery and rehabilitation efforts. No effort will be spared in lending a helping hand and ensuring that access to justice is maintained.  We must ensure that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines emerges from this disaster stronger and that normalcy quickly returns to the lives of its people.”



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