Sat, 15 May 2021

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent: Officials voiced concern today about residents of the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent who refused to evacuate following eruptions of La Soufriere volcano.

On Monday the volcano sent an enormous amount of ash and hot gas into the sky.

Some 16,000 residents have evacuated, leaving only a small number of residents on the island.

New lava flows have been created on the volcano, coming down along the mountain's south and southwest sides.

"It's destroying everything in its path," Erouscilla Joseph, director of the University of the West Indies' Seismic Research Center, told The Associated Press. "Anybody who would have not heeded the evacuation, they need to get out immediately."

There were no immediate reports of injuries or death, but government officials were scrambling to respond to the latest eruption, which was even bigger than the first eruption that occurred Friday morning.

The government earlier ordered some 16,00 people living in communities close to the volcano to evacuate.

Richard Robertson, with the seismic research center, told local media that the volcano's two domes have been destroyed, as a new crater has emerged.

"Anything that was there, man, animal, anything...they are gone," he said. "And it's a terrible thing to say it."

Joseph said the current eruption is similar to the 1902 explosion that killed some 1,600 people on the island.

The volcano last erupted in 1979. Ash from the new explosions has fallen on nearby islands, including Barbados.

Following reports of dozens of residents who remained behind, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves urged the remaining residents to evacuate.

"It is over time for you to leave," he said. "It is dangerous."

Further, officials said they would arrest anyone, including residents, caught inside the red zone, which is closest to the volcano.

Officials noted that the erupting volcano is putting in danger water and food supplies, as the government is now trucking water to residents outside the danger zone.

Authorities also are trying to set up water distribution points.

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