St Vincent PM issues evacuation order as volcanic eruption appears imminent

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, on Thursday issued an evacuation order for the communities near La Soufrière volcano, known as the Red Zone.

Gonsalves made the announcement this afternoon. He was briefed earlier on new developments involving the volcano in a virtual meeting with the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC) Geologist Prof. Richard Robertson, the current Scientific Team Lead on the island.

According to the UWI-SRC team based at the Belmont Observatory on the island, a series of small volcanic earthquakes (tremors) occurred at 5:30am, 8:00am, 10:15am and 1pm.

The scientist noted that these types of seismic signals are usually associated with movement of magma and fluids close to the surface.

They also noted that clouds of steam could also be seen from the observatory during the periods in which the tremors occurred.

“Preparation should be finalised for possible evacuation within very short notice as the new signals have significantly increased the possibility of an explosive eruption,” said Robertson.

“We are unable to say definitively when the volcano might erupt,” he added.

St. Vincent is currently on red alert – which is the highest threat level as it braces for heightened activity – with all emergency shelters activated.