KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent (AP) – On Sunday, the situation around the volcano on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean in the East Caribbean worsened due to strong thunderstorms, lightning and ash, and residents reported power outages.
The La Soufrière eruption on Friday forced many residents to evacuate their homes, although some remained. The roar was heard in the capital of Kingstown, 32 km south.
“I’m just wondering when it will calm down,” said Calicher Sutherland, a resident.
The lava began to flow from the volcano, says Professor Richard Robertson, chief scientist at the Center for Seismic Research in West India.
“It may calm down at some point. I hope we have a break so we can recover a little bit more, but don’t be surprised if it falls again after the break,” Robertson said.
Elford Lewis, a 56-year-old farmer who evacuated his home Sunday morning, said the ongoing eruption was worse than the last major eruption in 1979.
“This one is more serious,” said Lewis, who witnessed a major eruption decades ago.
An eruption of 4,003 feet (1,220 meters) in 1902 killed about 1,600 people.
Some 16,000 people had to flee the ash-covered communities with as much property as they could pack in their suitcases and backpacks. No casualties were reported from the initial blast or its aftermath.
Ralph Gonzalves, the prime minister of the 32 islands in the Grenadines of St. Vincent, said people should stay calm and continue to try to protect themselves from the coronavirus. He said officials were trying to figure out the best way to collect and destroy the ash that covered the runway at the airport near Kingstown and to Barbados, 190 miles (190 kilometers) to the east.
Some 3,200 people have taken refuge in 78 government-run shelters, and four empty cruise ships were ready to transport other evacuees to nearby islands, and a group of more than 130 people has already been relocated to St. Lucia. Those in the shelters were tested for COVID-19, in which the person with a positive result was taken to an isolation center.
Nearby countries, including Antigua and Grenada, have also offered to evacuate.