KINGSTON, Jamaica April 8, 2021 - As residents of the northern communities in St Vincent and the Grenadines begin to evacuate as activity on that country’s volcano La Soufriere increases, People’s National Party President Mark Golding has expressed concern and solidarity with Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Following days of seismic volcanic activity, authorities have begun evacuating persons, given the possibility of an imminent eruption.
This displacement of thousands of residents will have a major impact on the lives and livelihoods of those families.
It will also put a tremendous strain on the resources of the entire country, especially as it is happening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement this afternoon, Mr. Golding said “It is our hope and expectation that the Government of Jamaica will be among the first neighbours to extend whatever support is possible to help our Vincentian brothers and sisters get through this perilous time.”
Authorities on St. Vincent said Thursday they believe the country’s volcano La Soufriere is in danger of erupting and have ordered mandatory evacuations.
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— Ralph Gonsalves (@ComradeRalph) April 8, 2021
The island's emergency management office switched the alert level to red and said a Royal Caribbean cruise ship will arrive after nightfall to evacuate those who live near La Soufriere volcano. Others will be taken to shelters elsewhere in St. Vincent that are outside the danger zone.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said in a press conference that people have to be vaccinated if they go aboard a cruise ship or are granted temporary refuge in other nearby islands.
Roughly 16,000 people live in the red zone and will need to be evacuated, Erouscilla Joseph, director of the University of the West Indies' Seismic Research Center, told The Associated Press.
iWitness News also reported an elevated and sustained emission of gases which is another indication that fresh magma is coming through, said St Vincent’s lead scientist monitoring the volcano, Professor Richard Robertson.
“We are now into a period where we will not be surprised if sometime in the future we have an explosion or explosive activity,” he said.
It's understood that the alert level at the La Soufriere volcano has moved from orange to ‘Red’, which means a highly elevated level of seismicity or fumarolic activity or both. Eruptions may occur with less than 24 hours notice.
In the meantime, Guyana's President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali says he "has spoken with Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and has assured him of Guyana's full support in dealing with this looming crisis."
"The Prime Minister and I discussed immediate support, which will be required in the response. The Prime Minister indicated that apart from the need to evacuate, citizens, there were other emergency material need," Ali said in a media release.
President Ali assured Dr. Gonsalves that "upon receiving the full list of their needs, I would immediately put together a national response to supply the items and arrange for them to be shipped to St. Vincent and the Grenadines."