… PM says Guyana is open to helping evacuees from an island that has been struck by a volcano

By Jarryl Bryan

Following a high-level meeting led by President Dr Irfaan Ali together with Prime Minister Mark Phillips and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, it was announced that the Government was aiming to send a ship of assistance to a volcano to hit St Vincent and the Grenadines from within the next 48. Hours.
Phillips and Jagdeo were accompanied by President Ali at an emergency meeting on Saturday with members of the Civil Defense Commission (CDC) and the Private Sector, to coordinate an emergency response to a fellow Caribbean Community (Caricom) member state.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali (3rd, right) during the meeting with Private Sector executives at State House on Saturday

“The Caribbean nation is tackling the effects of the Soufrière volcano eruption, which has severely displaced its inhabitants, including large numbers of Guyanese. Guyana aims to send relief items over the next 48 hours. The team that met with the President this afternoon threw out ideas about the fastest possible route to the islands, as flight was banned. ”
“President Ali said it was very important to get the items removed and urged attendees to put all systems in place to get it done in the quickest possible time. This emergency response is expected to be the first of many in Guyana, ”the statement from the Office of the President’s Public Information and Press Services Unit noted.
Another statement from the President’s Office revealed that President Ali had been in contact with Barbados, which is only 118 miles from St Vincent and the Grenadines and is therefore expected to be affected by volcanic ash from their neighbor.
The CDC’s Director General, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig added that the Commission will work round the clock to procure the items needed. To date, it has already committed itself to supplying drinking water, personal protective equipment, hygiene and sanitary supplies, water tanks and shelter supplies.
“Banks DIH has supplied water (5-gallon bottles to fill a 20-foot container), John Fernandes Limited has donated a 20-foot container and a 40-foot container (to send items to St Vincent), and Gaico Construction and General Services have pledged two charter flights to Caricom island, ”Craig noted during the meeting. DDL and several other large companies are also committed to donating items.

Guyana opens its doors to evacuees
Meanwhile, this publication had a brief interview with Prime Minister Phillips, when asked about the Government’s efforts to help St Vincent and whether Guyana was considering opening its doors to evacuees from the Caribbean island.
“There is a list of needs they prepared. We have the list in our possession and we are trying to draw up support based on the items they need and get them as early as possible, ”said the First Minister.
“The Government of Guyana is open to all options. If anyone wants to be moved as far as Guyana, the Government of Guyana is open to all kinds of assistance. We work with the Government of St Vincent. Based on their requests, we are ready to meet all kinds of assistance, ”he added.
In an interview with this announcement on Friday, President Ali had assured that all Guyanese living and working in St. Vincent and Grenadines, where the La Soufriere volcano began to erupt, were safe.
He had said that he had been in constant contact with the Prime Minister of St Vincent, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, while his Ministers were also reaching out to their counterparts in the island state.
“We have also been in contact with the Honorary Consul there and he has assured us that the Guyanese are safe… He is co-ordinating, he is in contact with the Guyanese and he has got everything right,” the President belonged.

As it stands, there are thousands of Guyanese in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Guyana Times spoke briefly to at least two Guyanese who stated that they were safe on the south side of the island and that most if not all Guyanese they know were also in that area designated as a Green Zone on now. When asked, President Ali told this newspaper that no requests from any of the Guyanese in St. Vincent, Friday night, were returned.
A joint statement on Friday from the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and CDC stated that they are leveraging support for SVG, and are working to supply as many items as possible on the country’s immediate urgent needs list.
Items needed include: 1000 water tanks (800 and 1000 gallons), 5000 buckets (5 gallons), 10,000 folding cages, 150 portable toilets, 30,000 blankets plus 50 field tents (20 feet x 20 feet) and (910 feet x 10 feet).
You also need two field kitchens, 3000 sleeping mats, 1000 respirator masks with filters, 25,000 goggles, 2000 reflective vests, 100 warning tapes (100ft roll), and 10,000 hygiene kits.

La Soufriere volcano
At approximately 08: 41h on Friday, the La Soufriere volcano began to erupt with recorded ash plumes of up to 8 kilometers. There were at least two other explosions throughout the day – one at 14:45h (2:45 pm) that went about 4 km into the atmosphere, and the other around 18: 35h (6:35 pm).
The explosive blast had given the atmosphere a great deal of ash. The volcanic ash was reported to contain fine particles of volcanic rock shot into the air during the eruption and the prevailing wind conditions had taken the ash clouds in a northeast direction. Reports indicate that it may reach neighboring islands including Barbados.
The Geologist at UWA’s Seismic Research Center, Professor Richard Robertson, said during a press briefing on Friday morning that the volcano had erupted continuously overnight before starting to erupt.
According to Professor Robertson, although the first explosion was not a large one, more explosions are expected and these could last for days and even weeks.
Prime Minister Gonsalves on Thursday night declared a red alert and issued an evacuation order. Videos circulated on social media showed evacuees with luggage walking through the ash-covered streets with gray smog filling the air.
During an interview on NBC Radio in St Vincent on Friday night, Professor Robertson urged persons not to be in the ashes and to have their homes and other buildings secured to prevent the entry of the tiny particles.
The La Soufriere volcano last erupted in 1979 with no deaths or injuries since the area was evacuated. However, a previous explosion in 1902 killed about 1600 people.

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