Caribbean island faces ‘destruction and devastation’ after 'huge' new volcano eruption

Ross McGuinness
·3-min read
Ash and smoke billow as the La Soufriere volcano erupts in Kingstown on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent April 9, 2021.  REUTERS/Robertson S. Henry
Ash and smoke billow as La Soufriere volcano erupts in Kingstown on the eastern Caribbean island of St Vincent last Friday. (Reuters)

There has been another explosive eruption on Monday from a volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines that has forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes.

People on the Caribbean island were told to brace themselves for further ash clouds after La Soufrière volcano first erupted on Friday.

More than 16,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes and the resulting fall of ash covered large parts of St Vincent in a thick layer of dust.

On Monday, the volcano fired what experts called a “huge explosion” of ash and hot gas into the air.

Ash and smoke billow as the La Soufriere volcano erupts in Kingstown on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent April 9, 2021.  REUTERS/Robertson S. Henry
The volcano sent a huge dust cloud in the air above St Vincent. (Reuters)

“It’s destroying everything in its path,” Erouscilla Joseph, director of the University of the West Indies’s Seismic Research Center, told the Associated Press

“Anybody who would have not heeded the evacuation, they need to get out immediately.”

There were no immediate reports of injuries or death.

Watch: Relief effort underway in St Vincent after volcano erupts

Richard Robertson, a geology professor at the seismic research centre, told local station NBC Radio on Monday that the volcano's old and new dome have been destroyed and that a new crater has been created. 

He said that the pyroclastic flows – streams of solidified lava pieces – would have destroyed everything in their path.

“Anything that was there, man, animal, anything… they are gone,” he said. “And it’s a terrible thing to say it.”

In a tweet on Monday, the country’s National Emergency Management Organisation (Nemo) wrote: "The volcano continues to erupt explosively and has now begun to generate pyroclastic density currents. 

"Explosions and accompanying ashfall, of similar or larger magnitude, are likely to continue to occur over the next few days."

There were smaller explosions from the volcano over the weekend, which led to power cuts and affected water supplies.

Nemo tweeted on Sunday: “Massive power outage following another explosive event at La Soufrière volcano. 

“Lightning, thunder and rumblings. Majority of the country out of power and covered in ash.”

It also warned of the “possible destruction and devastation of communities” close to the volcano.

Nemo compared the eruption to one in 1902, the worst in the country’s history, when more than 1,000 people were killed.

TOPSHOT - This April 9, 2021, image courtesy Zen Punnett shows the eruption of La Soufriere Volcano from Rillan Hill in Saint Vincent. - La Soufriere erupted Friday for the first time in 40 years on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent, prompting thousands of people to evacuate, seismologists said. The blast from the volcano, sent plumes of ash 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) into the air, the local emergency management agency said. The eruption was confirmed by the UWI center. (Photo by ZEN PUNNETT / Zen Punnett / AFP) (Photo by ZEN PUNNETT/Zen Punnett/AFP via Getty Images)
A thick cloud of ash above St Vincent after La Soufriere volcano erupted on Friday. (AFP via Getty Images)
Ash covers palm trees and a church a day after the La Soufriere volcano erupted after decades of inactivity, about 5 miles (8 km) away in Georgetown, St Vincent and the Grenadines April 10, 2021 in a still image from video.  REUTERS/Robertson S. Henry
Ash covers palm trees and a church on Saturday after La Soufriere volcano erupted in St Vincent and the Grenadines. (Reuters)
Ash covers roads a day after the La Soufriere volcano erupted after decades of inactivity, in Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines April 10, 2021.  REUTERS/Robertson S. Henry
Ash covers roads on Saturday after La Soufriere volcano erupted after decades of inactivity. (Reuters)

Cruise ships have been prepared to take evacuees to nearby islands, while more than 3,000 people are staying in government-run shelters.

Antigua, Grenada and St Lucia have all offered to take evacuees. Many homes in St Vincent are without electricity and water.

Ash and smoke billow as the La Soufriere volcano erupts in Kingstown on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent April 9, 2021.  REUTERS/Robertson S. Henry
Ash and smoke billow as the La Soufriere volcano erupts in Kingstown on St. Vincent on Friday. (Reuters)
Evacuees travel by bus as they leave a village following the eruption of La Soufriere volcano on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent April 9, 2021.  REUTERS/Robertson S. Henry
Evacuees travel by bus as they leave a village following the eruption of La Soufriere volcano on St Vincent. (Reuters)

The ash has spread to neighbouring Barbados, 120 miles east of St Vincent. People in Barbados have been urged to stay in their homes to avoid inhaling the ash.

The La Soufrière volcano had been dormant since 1979, but an eruption was underway just before 9am local time on Friday.

Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of the 32 islands that make up the country of St Vincent and the Grenadines, said people should remain calm and keep trying to protect themselves from coronavirus.

Watch: Ash covers St Vincent streets amid eruptions