Archive | Volcano


St. Vincent and the Grenadines volcano erupts – thousands evacuate

by Bennette Roach

This is La Soufriere, St. Vincent – may remind of Soufriere Hills, Montserrat

The largest volcano on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent is home to La Soufrière erupted beginning at about 8.30 a.m. “Four days shy of its anniversary on the second Friday on April 9, 2021, in spectacular fashion, sending an ash plume shooting an estimated 52,000 feet into the atmosphere and forcing the evacuation of thousands.

Later, what University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Center scientists called an “explosive eruption,” reportedly sent plumes over 100,000 feet.

The explosion of ash was so large that it was visible from space on weather satellites. Southwesterly winds carried the cloud of ash over northern parts of St. Vincent and over the waters of the western Atlantic Ocean between the islands of Saint Lucia and Barbados, as seen from a photo on the front page.

Throughout the weekend, much of the island was covered in ash from the eruptions that continued on through Friday night. By Sunday night, eruptions were firing up again as conditions worsened,

Dozens of residents required rescuing from the northern part of the island as the new dangers place even more islanders at risk.

Richard Robertson, a geologist with the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre, very well known and remembered having worked for long stints in Montserrat, eventually heading the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, said during a Sunday night news conference that there is evidence of pyroclastic flows, the rush of super-heated gas and debris traveling down the mountainside as fast as 120 miles per hour, in the areas around the volcano.

“These flows are really moving masses of destruction,” Robertson said. “They just destroy everything in its path. Even if you have the strongest house in the world, they will just bulldoze it off the ground.”

The abrupt eruptions continued to launch debris and a cloud of ash into the air throughout Sunday night, leaving its remnants scattered throughout the island.

On Saturday, he said the roughly 110,000 residents of St. Vincent, many of whom have already sought refuge on other islands, should expect to see the largest blast of their lifetimes in the coming days

“The explosive eruption has started and it is possible you could have more explosions like these,” he said during a press conference on Saturday, according to NPR. “The first one is not necessarily the worst one, the first bang is not necessarily the biggest bang.

Very early Sunday morning, the National Emergency Management Organization of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (NEMO SVG) said on Twitter that a “massive power outage” was underway following another “explosive event” of the volcano. The island-wide power outage began just after 1.00 a.m., local time, on Sunday morning as loud rumblings continued to emit from the volcano, according to News 784 in St. Vincent.

Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves said water supplies to most of the island had been cut off and its airspace had been closed due to the smoke and plumes of volcanic ash moving through the atmosphere,

The NEMO SVG reported later in the morning that the ash plume had fallen at Argyle International Airport.

The island had been preparing for the eruption, but not the magnitude of it. Around 6:00 p.m. Thursday, Gonsalves announced in a press conference the evacuation order for residents in “red zones” on the northeast and northwest sides of the island.

This evacuation includes roughly 16,000 people on the island, Ralph Gonsalves @ComradeRalph  said:

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.

The Government-led evacuations immediately began, but they were to be assisted by nearby cruise line ships, arriving Friday, to help get people to safety.

However, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, evacuations are more complicated than usual.

Gonsalves said in his press conference that people have to be vaccinated before boarding a cruise ship or going to another island. The minister also highly recommended those taking shelter in Saint Vincent be vaccinated.

Flights were canceled at the Argyle International Airport on St. Vincent as well as the Grantley Adams International Airport on the nearby island of Barbados on Saturday, further complicating evacuation efforts.

Even on Friday morning, fresh magma near the surface of the volcano left the sky aglow.

The La Soufrière volcano on St. Vincent has had five explosive eruptions in the past, with the most recent being 1979. There was, however, an uptick in seismic activity more recently in December of 2020.

Gonsalves urged people to be patient and continue to take precautions as experts warned that explosive eruptions from the volcano could continue for days or even weeks, NBC News reported.

In an interview with NBC Radio, Gonsalves said that it could take up to four months for life to return to normal, depending on the extent of the damage. He added that agriculture will be badly affected.

In extremely powerful volcanic eruptions, the ash and aerosols released in the eruption can pass through the troposphere, the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere, and penetrate into the stratosphere, the second layer of the atmosphere.

If enough of the ash and other pollutants released in the eruption make it into the stratosphere, they can influence the climate around the globe. The boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere is about 6 miles (10 km) above the ground, a little higher than where commercial jets typically fly.

Response was immediate from the region

CARICOM governments and especially OECS governments immediately responded to these eruptions by sending and offering assistance to the stricken 16,000 populated area immediately affected by the continuing explosions and eruptive events.

The “Stronger Together Campaign

OECS Commission Launches “Stronger Together Campaign”

The OECS launched the  “Stronger Together Campaign” an Emergency Response for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines” is an initiative organized by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Commission relative to a coordinated approach to assist with relief and recovery efforts on behalf of our Member State, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Donations are invited from individuals and corporations across the Caribbean and globally. All funds (100%) raised via this campaign will be directly transferred to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

There is no limit on the value of pledges and contributions. Pledges are invited from individuals and corporations across the Caribbean and globally.

Montserrat had earlier sent one of its MVO scientists in the leadup to the eruption. Christopher Thomas joined other UWI) Seismic Research Center scientists who included Richard (Richie) Robertson with he worked here in Montserrat, for the team that monitored the volcano up to its eruption and after.

Government of Montserrat Officials at Warehouse with Supplies for St. Vincent & the Grenadines

On April 28, 2021 GIU release advised “The Government of Montserrat will deploy a shipment of emergency relief supplies to help address the immediate needs of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines affected by the ongoing eruption of the La Soufrière Volcano.

It informed further: “Twelve pallets of relief supplies from Montserrat’s emergency stockpile containing 7,200- N95 masks, 400 blankets, 200 cots, 140 helmets, water pump and accessories, eight folding tables and push-brooms, will be shipped on April 29, 2021. These were to be collected by the vessel MV Promise Kept to arrive in St Vincent and the Grenadines the following day, Friday, April 30, 2021.

The relief supplies from the national emergency stockpile managed by the Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA), are designed to meet the basic needs of residents staying in Emergency Shelters, overseen by the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The move was a follow-up to the GoM’s April 12 announcement that Montserrat will donate humanitarian supplies, contribute $150,000.00 (US$55,555), and establish a local team to provide support to the people of the volcano stricken islands.

Other islands as reported from OECS headquarters

The Government of Grenada will provide $1 million in support for the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to help deal with the impact of the explosive eruptions at the La Soufriere volcano.

Grenada initially pledged to accept hundreds of Vincentian evacuees if they opted for relocation and immediately began making arrangements to do so, in collaboration with St. George’s University. Meanwhile, preparations continue to be made to host evacuees in the event that persons decide to take advantage of the opportunity.

These items include drinking water, water tanks, collapsible water bladders, buckets, portable toilets, sleeping mats, field tents, respirator masks with filters, hygiene kits, disinfectants, and sanitisers.

As the volcanic disaster in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines continues to unfold, regional solidarity is once again at the forefront of relief efforts.

Antigua and Barbuda

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda was among the first and began its response efforts on Thursday, April 8, 2021 after Prime Minister Hon. Gaston Browne consulted with his counterpart in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Prime Minister Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonzalves.  It was at this juncture that Antigua and Barbuda agreed to accept 250 Vincentian evacuees who would be accommodated at the Jolly Beach Hotel. The gesture was part of a wider regional response to the developing situation in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. 

In addition to accommodation, the GoA extended support and services to evacuees.  While in Antigua, the Ministry of Health will provide medical support; the Transport Board will provide the necessary transportation for official movement; the Ministry of Education will facilitate the education of students; the security forces will provide security as necessary for the well-being of all, and the Ministry of Works will assist with physical security if necessary.

Donations from corporate and civic organizations as well as the national warehouse in Antigua and Barbuda were coordinated through the National Office of Disaster Services.  So far, support has been received from Mega Distributors, the Lion’s Club, Best Buy, the Rotary Club of Antigua, Premier Beverages, GCS Bottling Services Ltd, and the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross. These donations, which included water, water tanks, housing supplies, personal care items, mosquito nets, generators, lanterns, flashlights, and relief kits, were shipped in a 20-foot container on April 12, 2021.

World Bank

The World Bank disbursed US$20 million to support the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ response to the crisis posed by the La Soufrière volcano eruption.

The explosive eruption began on April 8 and has required the evacuation of 20,000 people from the high-risk zones around the volcano, both to other parts of Saint Vincent and surrounding countries. Explosions are continuing, and the falling ash is causing air quality concerns and interruptions in electricity and water supply.

The funds are disbursed from a contingent credit line from the World Bank, known as the Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat-DDO), approved in June 2020.


The Government and people of Dominica continue to stand in solidarity with the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and reiterates the support of all Dominicans during the volcanic crisis unfolding on the island, Prime Minister Skerrit said.

Following an eruptive event of ash flow

Before April 12 he conversed with Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, and offered support to assist with the evacuation of residents during this natural disaster as the Government worked to confirm logistics and make preparations for the accommodation of a group of Vincentians for a period of up to five months.

All local partners and international organizations on the island are collaborating with the Government and a national response is being finalized.

He said also ‘the expressions of concern and outpouring of support for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have been exceptional and reflects the kindness and brotherhood we are known for.’

St Lucia sends assists with transporting stranded OECS workers from St. Vincent

Meanwhile, St. Lucia on the receiving end of ashfall assisted with 139 Stranded Agricultural Workers in the wake of the La Soufriere Volcano explosion. They were farmworkers en route to Canada were part of the seasonal agricultural workers’ programme.

It was reported already that Dominicans have reached out and offered assistance to house individuals who need to be evacuated from St. Vincent. In this regard, a special hotline was established for the general public to offer support for housing or other areas of assistance.

The agricultural workers, 95 Vincentians, 18 Saint Lucians, and 23 Grenadians, were en route to Canada for employment on the seasonal agricultural workers’ programme when their flight from St. Vincent to Canada was canceled. The workers arrived via the Cruise Ship “Serenade of the Seas” on Saturday morning and remained in Saint Lucia for a few days until they were able to board a flight to Canada.

Grenada sends personnel and other support to St Vincent

While wreaking havoc on the lives of residents, many of whom had to evacuate the northern part of the island categorised as the Red Zone, the entire population continued to cope with a myriad of issues, from the destruction of property, livestock, and crops, the presence of volcanic ash which is dangerous to human health, disruptions in telecommunications services to contaminated water supplies. To this end, the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) came to the aid of the people of St. Vincent with a donation of bottled water.

La Soufrière Eruption – ECTEL Sends Water to St. Vincent and the Grenadines

ECTEL’s Managing Director, Mr. Andrew Millet learned of the urgent need for water.  He said, “ECTEL stands in solidarity with the people…We cannot begin to comprehend the distress they must be feeling, having to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, and now this natural phenomenon.”  The matter of further assistance to St. Vincent and the Grenadines was discussed at the 41st Meeting of ECTEL’s Council of Ministers, the result being a donation of 24 pallets of water departed Saint Lucia on Wednesday, April 14, and arrived in St. Vincent on Friday, April 16. 

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