Kingstown, St. Vincent — The situation was exacerbated on Sunday when heavy rumblings, thunderstorms, and heavy rains were observed at a volcano on St. Vincent in the eastern Caribbean Sea, and residents reported power outages.
The Friday eruption of La Soufrière forced many residents to evacuate their homes, but some remained. A rumbling sound was heard in the capital of Kingstown, about 20 miles (32 km) south.
“I’m wondering when it will settle down,” said resident Kalique Sutherland.
Lava began to flow from the volcano, said Professor Richard Robertson, chief scientist at the Center for Seismic Research at the University of West Indies.
“I wish I could be quiet at some point and take a break so that I could recover a little more, but don’t be surprised if I recover this way again after the break,” says Robertson.
Elford Lewis, a 56-year-old farmer who evacuated from his home on Sunday morning, said the ongoing eruption was worse than the last major eruption in 1979.
“This is more serious,” said Lewis, who witnessed a major eruption decades ago.
In 1902, a 4,003-foot (1,220-meter) volcano erupted, killing about 1,600 people.
About 16,000 people had to flee the ash-covered community with enough belongings to pack in their suitcases and backpacks. However, there are no reports of anyone being killed or injured by the first or subsequent blast.
Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of the 32 islands that make up the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said people should try to stay calm and protect themselves from the coronavirus. Authorities said they were trying to find the best way to collect and dispose of the ashes that had fallen to Barbados, about 120 miles (190 km) east, covering the airport runway near Kingstown.
Approximately 3,200 people were evacuated to 78 government-run shelters, and four empty cruise ships were ready to take other refugees to nearby islands. A group of over 130 people has already been taken to Saint Lucia. People staying in shelters were tested for COVID-19, and those who tested positive were taken to a quarantine center.
Neighboring countries, including Antigua and Grenada, have also offered to accept evacuees.