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‘Apocalyptic’: Volcanic Eruptions in the Caribbean

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Returning volunteer writer Leah Langley describes the effects of and responses to the eruption of the La Soufrière volcano on Caribbean island Saint Vincent and Grenadines. 

La Soufrière had been dormant since 1979 but, after growing activity from December, it erupted on April 9th , bringing much destruction to the Caribbean island Saint Vincent and Grenadines.

In December, La Soufrière began spouting steam and smoke before making rumbling noises. The activity of the volcano continued to steadily increase before significantly worsening in the lead-up to the eruption. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves issued an urgent warning on April the 8th, encouraging more than 16,000 residents habituating within the “red zones” to begin evacuating after the first signs of an imminent eruption began presenting themselves, with a visible lava dome appearing on the volcano. Just before 9am on April 9th, University of West Indies seismologists confirmed that there was an “explosive eruption” underway and dark ash plumes were trajected more than 3.7 miles into the air. Another explosion was recorded later in the evening and scientists have warned that eruptions could continue to last for another 6 months.

Neighbouring islands, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Antigua, and Barbados were quick to offer a place for evacuees with cruise liners, ‘Carnival Cruise Lines’ and ‘Royal Caribbean Group’ sending ships to transport residents. Jorge Arreaza, the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, announced that Venezuela would be sending humanitarian supplies and risk experts, whilst assistance and emergency funds were provided by many nearby islands, the UK, and many agencies.

A mass appeal was issued on April the 20th 2021, by the United Nations, following the Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Didier Trebucq, visiting the affected areas, with Gonsalves, in which he described the scenes as “apocalyptic.” The appeal has been made for $29.2 million which will be used to scale up assistance on the island for the next 6 months. The eruption has seen more than 20,000 people displace, more than 1,450 families displaced, as well as extensive damage to infrastructure, facilities and services, evacuations and humanitarian efforts have been hindered due to ongoing explosive eruptions, gas, ashes, and tremors.

Edited by Izzie Naish – News Editor

Header designed by Christos Alamaniotis – Head of Design

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