St Vincent's Caribbean residents wake to ash-covered streets, rumbling volcano

KINGSTOWN, ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES (REUTERS) – Residents of the eastern Caribbean island of St Vincent on Saturday (April 10) woke to rumbling noises emanating from the La Soufriere volcano that spectacularly erupted a day earlier, while a thin layer of ash coated rooftops, cars and roads.

After decades of inactivity, the volcano erupted on Friday spewing dark clouds of ash some 10km into the air and prompting an evacuation of some residents living nearby.

A Reuters witness in the island’s capital city of Kingstown said the volcano continued to vent clouds of ash and rumble on Saturday morning, while videos from the island showed a ghost-like landscape, with empty streets and hazy skies.

St Vincent and the Grenadines, which has a population of just over 100,000, has not experienced volcanic activity since 1979, when an eruption resulted in approximately US$100 million worth of damage.

An eruption by La Soufriere in 1902 killed more than 1,000 people. The name means “sulphur outlet” in French.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who ordered the evacuation of residents close to the eruption, is expected on Saturday to tour rescue shelters that have imposed limits on the number of evacuees they take due to Covid-19 protocols.

Authorities say they are awaiting scientific findings before announcing what future steps they will need to take.

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