Residents of Caribbean island evacuate due to 'imminent' volcanic eruption
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent - Residents of a southern Caribbean island are rushing to evacuate on Friday morning as local officials warn of an imminent volcanic eruption.
According to CNN, the island of St. Vincent is on red alert because a volcano called La Soufriere is expected to erupt at any moment. As a result, roughly 6,000 to 7,000 people are attempting to leave in accord with instructions from local authorities.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves declared a disaster alert Thursday, April 8, according to the country's National Emergency Management Organization.
Researchers at the Belmont Observatory in St. Vincent noticed a volcanic tremor on the island at about 3 a.m. local time, according to UWI-SRC.
This initial band of tremors was followed by five more over the course of the day. Experts say this kind of seismic signal is typically associated with movement of magma and fluids close to the surface.
"Ash venting was also observed during the most recent tremor episode," the center reported on Facebook.
This would not be La Soufriere's first major eruption. The seismic research center says it is recorded as producing explosive eruptions five times, in 1718, 1812, 1814, 1902/03 and 1979.
Other nations have reached out to St. Vincent and the Grenadines to assist.
CNN reports that Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley spoke with Gonsalves and offered assistance, and that Venezuela is planning to send humanitarian supplies in addition to risk experts.
A number of cruise ships are also heading to the islands to help with evacuations, according to officials with NEMO.
Carnival Cruise Lines shed light on how it intends to assist in evacuation efforts during a recent interview with CNN, saying, "Each ship will accommodate up to 1,500 residents who will be transported to neighboring islands which have agreed to offer refuge out of harm's way. All precautions will be taken to protect the health and safety of Carnival crew and the passengers who board the ships."
The news outlet notes that Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are also sending one ship each.
The eastern Caribbean is home to quite a few active volcanoes. Seventeen of the area's 19 live volcanoes are on 11 islands, the remaining two are underwater near the island of Grenada.
In recent years, Soufriere Hills in Montserrat has been the area's most active volcano, it took the lives of least 19 people in 1997.
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