San Juan, Apr 11 (EFE).- The main scientist monitoring the eruption of La Soufriere volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines told Efe Sunday that the explosions recorded since Friday are so far greater than those of 1979, when it was last active, and that the pattern of activity is similar to 1902.
An explosive eruption from La Soufriere killed more than 1,000 people that year.
Richard Robertson, from the scientific team at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Center in Trinidad and Tobago, said experts believe that all the material in the upper area of the volcano has been expelled and it is now ejecting material from its depths.
“What we don’t know is how much material is still down there and wants to come out. We don’t know how long and how much material can still reach the top,” he said.
Robertson also told Efe that with the volume of ash emitted so far “most, if not all, of the people in St Vincent have had some ash deposit in their communities.”
Between 16,000 and 20,000 people, including children, have been evacuated since Friday.
Unicef has provided humanitarian assistance to approximately 4,800 children and it is estimated that more than 1,000 displaced families will need immediate financial assistance due to the interruption to their fragile sources of income.
More than 70 shelters have been opened on the island, housing some 3,000 people.
The authorities of Barbados, east of St Vincent, have asked the population not to leave their homes unless necessary and that, if they do, they wear masks due to the ash.
The director of the Trinidad-based Seismic Research Center at UWI’s St Augustine campus, Erouscilla Joseph, said Sunday that Barbados, east of St Vincent and the Grenadines, must be prepared to continue receiving ash from La Soufriere volcano “for days or weeks.”
At a press conference with Prime Minister Mia Mottley Sunday, Joseph said that although the current eruption shows “effects and characteristics of the eruptions of 1979 and 1902… what’s different about it is the jet flow and the height of the ash column being generated.”
“This has not been seen in previous eruptions,” they said.
Mottley said that “unfortunately, the worst case scenario is that this can last for weeks (…) We just have to continue to monitor the seismicity associated with the volcano and advise based on that.”
She urged Barbadians “not to panic as a result of the tremendous amount of ash that has fallen on the island since the volcano started explosive eruptions last week, turning days into nights.”
She warned citizens to be careful when removing ash from roofs and urged residents to clean them frequently using light amounts of water to prevent a heavy buildup that could collapse property.
Barbados could close its trade for the next two days to allow the removal of the ash that has covered various parts of the island. EFE-EPA