Evacuation ordered as activity in St Vincent volcano intensifies

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KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) — Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves issued an immediate evacuation order as the situation at La Soufriere volcano deteriorated further on Thursday afternoon, and announced that several cruise ships would be arriving from Friday to help get residents out.

He made the announcement on the advice of the country’s disaster officials, after Professor Richard Robertson, the lead scientist monitoring the volcano, reported further activity at La Soufriere.

“I hereby order as follows:

1) the evacuation of all premises in the areas designated as the red zone on the northeast and northwest of St Vincent and the evacuation of the area itself…and

2) the exclusion of persons, vessels or vehicles from such premises and areas, save and except for the purpose of effecting the said evacuation,” he said, adding that while the evacuation order would be published on Friday, it would take immediate effect.

“I want to urge all our people to be calm, do not panic, be disciplined, be orderly.”

The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) said the safe areas were those from North Union to Kingstown, on the Windward side of the island, Barouallie to Kingstown on the Leeward side and the Grenadine Islands.

The Prime Minister said Royal Caribbean was offering three of its ships, two of them expected to arrive by Friday morning, while Carnival Cruise Line has also indicated that by Friday evening, two of its cruise ships will be in the country to transport evacuees.

“The cruise ships of Royal Caribbean will be first used to transport the persons from St Vincent and the Grenadines who are to be evacuated to other countries in the region who have offered temporary hospitality, namely St Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Antigua,” he explained, adding that the British Virgin Islands has also offered assistance but arrangements have not been made.

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