… PM Gonsalves issues an evacuation order
President Dr Irfaan Ali has reached out to the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, and pledged Guyana’s full and unwavering support as the island state dealt with an impending volcano eruption.
Following several days of escalating explosive activities at the La Soufriere volcano on the island of St Vincent, Prime Minister Gonsalves on Thursday issued a red alert and issued an evacuation order.
In a statement, President Ali said he discussed immediate assistance with his colleague in the Head of State who will be needed in the response.
“The First Minister stated that, besides the need to evacuate citizens, there were other urgent needs. I committed to him that, upon receiving the full list of their needs, Guyana would immediately draw up a national response to supply the items and arrange for them to be shipped to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, ”noted President Ali.
During an emergency press briefing late Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Gonsalves called the country’s National Emergence and Disaster Management Act to order the evacuation of all buildings in the Red Zone designated area in northeast and northwest St. Vincent, as well as the evacuation areas themselves.
The evacuation order also speaks to the exclusion of persons, ships or vehicles from such premises and areas, except for the purpose of operating the evacuation.
“This order would be issued tomorrow (Friday) but comes into effect immediately … So there is now an Evacuation Order in the country. All arrangements have now started and the [evacuation] the process begins, ”said St Vincent’s Head of State.
According to PM Gonsalves, this decision was made based on advice from the country’s Head of the National Emergency Management Institute (NEMO), Michelle Forbes, and from the Geologist of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Center, Professor Richard Robertson. .
St Vincent’s Head of State further said, “I want to encourage all our people to be calm. Stay calm, be disciplined, be organized. ”
He went on to reveal that Royal Caribbean had offered three of its ships to assist with the evacuation. Two of these are expected to arrive this morning, followed by the third.
In addition, the First Minister noted that the Carnival Cruise Line had also indicated that by tonight two of its cruise ships would be in the country to carry evacuees.
“The Royal Caribbean cruise ships will first be used to transport the people from St Vincent and the Grenadines who are to be moved to other countries in the region that have offered temporary hospitality; namely, St Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Antigua, ”Gonsalves announced.
He added that the British Virgin Islands also offered assistance, which has yet to be taken advantage of.
In addition to support from Guyana, PM St. Vincent further revealed, Trinidad and Tobago have also pledged to support materials, while St. Kitts and Nevis have also offered to accommodate citizens if needed. Montserrat, too, has extended its support to the island state.
Earlier in the day, PM Gonsalves had declared a disaster alert triggered by a change in explosive activity at the La Soufriere volcano.
At the time, the UWA Geologist, Professor Richard Robertson, had warned that preparations for possible evacuation should be completed within a very short notice, as the new signals had significantly increased the possibility of an explosive explosion, which it was noted could be within hours or days. .
It was reported that around 3:00 am local time on Thursday, a volcanic eruption (VT) was observed by scientists at the Belmont Observatory in St. Louis. Vincent. This first tremor was followed by subsequent bands at 5:30 am, 8:00 am, 10:15 am and 1pm. This type of seismic signal is usually associated with the movement of magma and fluids close to the surface. Clouds of steam could also be seen from the observatory during the periods of turbulence.
However, at Thursday’s urgent news conference, Professor Robertson explained that there had been more advanced activity at the La Soufriere volcano.
“The significant thing that has changed since the last briefing, though, is that the last eruption is accompanied by pillars of gas venting, a significant volcano pulse where it clearly seems – for lack of a better word – trying clearing her throat… At this point, we can’t say for sure or give any further clear warning that nothing will happen within the next 24 to 48 hours. ”
However, the Geologist noted that it would not be surprising if the volcanoes erupted at a much more significant level.
“We seem to be clearly getting into something that could be explosive, and so we need to take the necessary steps to protect life and limbs,” said Professor Robertson.
A local media outlet in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, News 784, reported Thursday night that the dome had reached crater height on the west (left) side of the island. He further noted, from that side of the island, that the bright / fiery look of the dome was seen darkening. (G8)