La Soufriere Volcano: Foreigners abandon St Vincent in cruise ships

La Soufriere volcano has been shooting explosive ash and gas continuously since its first eruption on April 9, 2021, forcing evacuation of thousands of people

The ash fall has contaminated existing water sources and triggered a water shortage across the island.

Meanwhile a cruise ship arrived to evacuate some of the foreigners who had been stuck on a St. Vincent island coated in ash from a week of violent eruptions.

British, US and Canadian nationals were being evacuated aboard Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Celebrity Reflection from the harbour in the Kingstown, capital of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The ship was due to arrive Saturday in Dutch Sint Maarten.

Dozens of foreigners toting luggage descended from tour buses and cars at the port terminal in Kingstown and patiently waited in a line that began in the parking lot and reached deep into the terminal.

They included students from the Trinity School of Medicine along with stranded tourists, including families with young children in arms.

“As of right now, we are being evacuated for our safety and to keep the island as safe as possible,” said Leah Ransai, a Canadian student at Trinity. “Between the school, the government and the embassies of the US and Canada, we’re being evacuated now.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recommended against travel on cruise ships because of the chance of getting Covid-19 and said people who had been in close contact with suspected Covid-19 cases were barred from the trip. All aboard were supposed to have a negative rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of boarding.

About 20,000 people were evacuated from the vicinity of the La Soufriere volcano in Saint Vincent, while foreigners have been abandoning the island, several thousand locals are stuck in emergency shelters with no idea when to return home.

On Friday a big explosion compared to the ones during the first weekend, but it was big enough to punch a hole through the clouds,” said Richard Robertson, lead scientist at the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center told NBC radio. “Probably got up to 8,000 meters.”

During a comparable eruption cycle in 1902, explosive eruptions continued to shake the island for months after an initial burst killed some 1,700 people, though the new eruptions so far have caused no reported deaths among a population that had received official warning a day earlier that danger was imminent.