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St. Vincent Residents Told To Be Ready To Evacuate Their Homes After La Soufriere Volcano Spews Ash

KINGSTOWN — Residents of the eastern Caribbean island chain of St. Vincent and the Grenadines were advised to evacuate their homes on Thursday after a volcano, dormant for decades, came back to life and began spewing ash.

The government raised the alert level to orange for the volcano La Soufriere, indicating that it could erupt within 24 hours, and recommended people who live nearby should leave their homes immediately.

Steam, gas and a volcanic dome, formed by lava that reaches the Earth’s surface, were seen over La Soufriere, located in the northern area of St. Vincent island, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency said.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which has a population of just over 100,000, has not seen volcanic activity since 1979. An eruption by La Soufriere in 1902 killed at least 1,600 people.

That occurred shortly before Martinique’s Mt. Pelee erupted and destroyed the town of Saint-Pierre, killing more than 30,000 people.

Authorities on the island of Martinique, are also closely watching the Mount Pelee volcano there after tremors became more frequent last month, prompting concern among residents.

Mount Pelee has recorded an increase in seismic activity since April 2019, the first activity since the end of an eruption that lasted from 1929 to 1932. Authorities on the island have said a new volcanic eruption could be dangerous.

Mt. Pelee too is now active once again. In early December, officials in the French Caribbean territory issued a yellow alert due to seismic activity under the mountain

The simultaneous uptick in activity of La Soufriere and Mount Pelee is not linked, scientists said.

The most recent warning was issued late Tuesday for La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as strong gas emissions, formation of a new volcanic dome and changes to its crater lake.

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency said that scientists observed an “effusive eruption within the crater, with visible gas and steam” on Tuesday.

The government warned those living near the volcano to prepare to evacuate if needed, declaring an orange alert that means eruptions could occur with less than 24 hours notice.

But Keith Muckett took issue with the Reuters report, stating on Twitter that no one has yet been advised to evacuate in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“This is fake news please refer to @uwiseismic for the latest and accurate information,” Muckett said. “There is currently no evacuation order.”

—REUTERS

Editing by Cassandra Garrison and Barbara Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles

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