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Volcano alert level raised in St Vincent

Volcano alert level raised in St Vincent
This image shows the building of a dome inside the crater of La Soufriere volcano in St Vincent. (GP)

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KINGSTOWN, St Vincent – The alert level associated with La Soufriere volcano, was on Tuesday raised from yellow to orange, the third highest on the four-colour scheme, as the volcano entered an effusive eruption stage.

This means that magma is oozing from the volcano and is distinct from the explosive eruption, such as that of 1979, although one could follow the other.

With the orange alert, residents of the northern third of St Vincent – from Georgetown to Fancy, in the east, and north of Belle Isle, in the west – were told to prepare to evacuate at short notice, should such an order be given.

Volcano alert level raised in St Vincent
The hazard zones for the La Soufriere volcano in St Vincent. (GP)

“What is happening now is a serious thing. The volcano is erupting,” Professor Richard Robertson of the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre in Trinidad and Tobago, told reporters by video link.

He said that scientists would try their best to give at least 48 hours warning in the case of an explosive volcano.

“We are trying to make sure you have whatever the time you need to move people out of harm’s way, whether it is 48 hours, 24 hours, whatever time that is. We want to be in a position to give you that and we will try as hard as we can to that,” said Robertson, whose team could be in St Vincent, bringing additional equipment as soon as Wednesday evening.

“I think you have to prepare for a rocky road for the next couple of months, unfortunately. Prime Minister, I think St Vincent dodge COVID, but I am not sure you are dodging the volcano, unfortunately,” Robertson said.

Speaking at the same press conference, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, urged resident in the red zone to be ready to evacuate at short notice, but emphasised that the alert was not an order to evacuate. (CMC)