St Vincent volcano eruption: Thousands flee as Caribbean volcano belches smoke and ash
The St Vincent volcano erupted on Friday, April 9, after authorities warned of a possible imminent eruption of La Soufriere. Evacuation orders and a red alert were issued on Thursday after an increase in earthquake activity at the volcano. The country's National Emergency Management Organisation warned there was a "substantial prospect of disaster".
An explosive eruption at about 1.41pm BST (8.41am local time) was then confirmed by experts at the University of the West Indies.
The University's UWISeismic Research group tweeted: "At 8.41am this morning 9-4-21 an explosive eruption began at La Soufriere volcano in St Vincent.
"This is a culmination of the seismic activity that began on April 8.
"The eruption is ongoing and more information will be shared as things progress. #lasoufriere #uwi #volcano #svg"
Volcanic ash was seen falling on the volcano's flanks, covering communities at Chateaubelair and Petite Bordel.
St Vincent is the largest island in the country of St Vincent and the Grenadines and is estimated to be home to some 130,000 people.
Incredible video footage of La Soufriere shows the volcano spewing a thick column of ash and smoke.
The video was recorded from inside of a moving car and shows the volcano's impressive plume choking out the sky.
A person can be heard shouting inside of the vehicle: "Holy, it really erupt. My God."
People living near the volcano were ordered to flee, with cruise ships ferrying evacuees to nearby islands.
However, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves warned people would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to take the ferries.
He said: "This is an emergency situation, and everybody understands that."
The nearby islands of St Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbados have all extended a helping hand and have offered to take on the evacuees.
The eruption was also seen from space in satellite imagery shared on Twitter by WCNC Charlotte meteorologist Brad Panovich shows the eruption from space.
You can see the plume of ash and smoke extending from the island and over the sea towards the North Atlantic Ocean.
The meteorologist tweeted: "Volcanic eruption of #LaSoufrière #volcano going on right now on #StVincent in the Caribbean."
La Soufriere is an active volcano on the island of St Vincent in the Caribbean Windward Islands.
The stratovolcano's summit marks the highest point on the island at more than 4,000ft (1,234m).
The volcano last erupted in 1979, although its deadliest blast occurred in 1902.
The 1902 eruption, which went off on May 6, killed some 1,680 people.
Just hours later, the eruption of Mount Pelee on the island of Martinique in the West Caribbean killed 29,000 people.
Thankfully, St Vincent's residents were warned in time to prevent any loss of life in 1979.
Before that, La Soufriere's eruptions were recorded in 1812 and 1718.
The volcano has been showing signs of activity since December 2020.
A new dome was spotted forming inside of La Soufriere's crater and seismic activity spiked on April 8 this year, leading experts to believe an eruption was imminent.
Reference: Daily Express: Sebastian Kettley