St Vincent on 'red alert' as La Soufrière volcano erupts

La Soufriere which has been erupting effusively since December can erupt explosively in hours or days

La Soufriere which has been erupting effusively since December can erupt explosively in hours or days

A disaster alert has been issued in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a result of heightened activity in La Soufrière, a volcano in the north of the island of St. Vincent and its highest point.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the efforts, and St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told reporters in a news conference that those seeking refuge aboard a cruise ship or another island would have to be vaccinated.

The prime minister said Royal Caribbean was offering three of its ships, two of them expected to arrive by this morning, while Carnival Cruise Line has also indicated that by this evening two of its cruise ships will be in the country to transport evacuees.

A team from the seismic center arrived in St Vincent in late December after the volcano had an effusive eruption.

"Of course, large numbers of persons still would have to stay in the shelters but the more we get persons who can go into homes and who can go into the hotels and the guest houses, whether here or outside of St Vincent and the Grenadines, we should do so".

'They know who doesn't have transportation because all of this has been canvassed before, ' she said, adding that those who board the cruise ship would not be taken elsewhere but would remain there for an unspecified period of time.

"They are settling in quite nicely", Doris McIntosh, deputy manager of one shelter, said in a phone interview.

Officials said the dome of the volcano located on the island's northern region could be seen glowing by nightfall. "That is the worst thing to do".

The Prime Minister said he wants the elderly and sick to be placed in guesthouses, hotels and private residences.

However, Robertson said no one can say exactly when that would happen.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which has a population of just over 100,000, has not experienced volcanic activity since 1979.

Whether hurricanes, earthquakes, or other calamities, Royal Caribbean has traditionally stepped up with humanitarian aid and assistance.

One in 1902 is estimated to have claimed the lives of about 1,600 people.