Last updated on Friday, 9 April 2021, 13:04 by Denis Chabrol
Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon said Friday that his A Partnership for National Unity (APNU + AFC) coalition would support national initiatives to bring relief to St Vincent’s residents affected by a volcano and even receive some evacuees if need.
“We urge, if necessary, the PPP regime to put in place suitable measures to accommodate the Vincentians in Guyana who need to be moved and relocated,” Mr Harmon said in a statement.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, but the National Emergency Management Institute (NEMO) said on Twitter around noon, “” the evacuation of people in the red and amber zones to safe havens continues in earnest. Heavy ash collapse has hindered the process somewhat as visibility is very poor. NEMO continues to respond to the many challenges of the process. ”
St. Vincent and the Prime Minister of the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has estimated that there are about 20,000 residents in the red zone.
Mr Harmon pledged to support the relief efforts of the Guyana government to Vincentians. “. The Opposition is ready to support appropriate and necessary national initiatives and measures to provide assistance to affected St Vincent’s people who are being moved to safer locations, ”he said.
President Irfaan Ali said Thursday night that he was awaiting a list of needs from Dr. Gonsalves before starting a national campaign to boost relief response effort.
Dr. Gonsalves since the evacuation order was issued Thursday afternoon, about 4,500 people have fled by bus, boat and private transportation. Based on figures provided by the state-run National Emergency Management Institute (NEMO), he said about 2,000 people are now housed in shelters.
The Vincentian leader acknowledged that housing the sick, elderly and shut-ins in hotels and guesthouses would increase the cost of evacuation operations but he wanted to make sure they were properly accommodated. “It will cost more money but I do not want the operation to be run as an operation of penny-pinching NGOs,” he said.
Dr. Gonsalves that the Prime Minister of Dominica, Grenada, and Antigua and Barbuda would be ready by Sunday or Monday to receive evacuees in their countries and place them in hotels and guesthouses already closed in those countries.
He said at least two cruise ships had already docked in St Vincent to take evacuees that must be tested and vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
The Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines said he also plans to hold similar discussions with the Prime Ministers of St. Lucia, and St. Louis. Kitts and Nevis about extending voluntary evacuee-like accommodation.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Professor Hillary Beckles, says Gonsalves, has offered to allow students to go to campuses and continue to study more or less.
Dr. appealed. Gonsalves on minibus operators to continue to assist with moving people out of the red zone and into more comfortable accommodation.
Based on initial scientific assessments, at least the recovery could take four months depending on the duration of the explosion.
The La Soufriere volcano erupted back to life several months ago, having been dormant since its last violent eruption in 1979.