Thousands evacuated from St Vincent as volcano erupts

Thousands of people were evacuated from St Vincent ahead of an eruption that rocked the Caribbean island on Friday.

Emergency management officials said a column of ash rose about 6 kilometers into the air, heading east into the Atlantic Ocean.

However, heavy ashfall also was reported in communities around the volcano and beyond, with authorities saying some evacuations were limited by poor visibility.

The new eruption followed mandatory evacuation orders issued on Thursday for the roughly 16,000 people who live in the red zone near La Soufriere volcano in the island’s northern region.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the burst that occurred just four days short of the 42nd anniversary of the last eruption.

Some residents in the village of Troumaca were leaving on crowded government-provided transportation while others were seen on the side of the road desperately asking for a ride to safety.

Several flights also were canceled and islands including Barbados, St. Lucia and Grenada prepared for light ashfall as the 1,220-meter volcano continued to rumble. Authorities reported a second, smaller explosion on Friday afternoon.

“More explosions could occur,” Erouscilla Joseph, director of the University of the West Indies Seismic Center said in a phone interview, adding that it was impossible to predict whether they might be bigger or smaller than the first or second one.

The volcano last erupted on April 13, 1979, and a previous eruption in 1902 killed some 1,600 people.


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