New Delhi, April 13: West Indies cricket great Brian Lara has appealed for help after a giant volcanic eruption began to threaten the tiny eastern Carribean island of St. Vincent. A thick layer of ash, hot gas and fragments of rock has blanketed the country and its surrounding as the La Soufriere volcano, which erupted last Friday, suffered its biggest explosion Monday. Over 16,000 residents were forced to evacuate their homes to cruise ships and safer parts of the island.
"I look on in horror as ash continues to cover the beautiful Island of St. Vincent with ash fall being reported in St. Lucia and Barbados and my heart breaks," said Lara in an Instagram post, commenting on the cascading disaster.
"My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected. Though I may be miles away the Caribbean is my home and whatever affects you, affects me. I stand with you my Vincy family, my Caribbean family, I pray for you and with you. I hope that everyone continues to stay safe. You will get through this #prayers #caribbean #caribbeanstrong," he added posting several pictures and a video of the devastation that volcanic eruption has caused in the region.
Dormant since 1979, La Soufriere started spewing smoke and actively rumbling in December. On April 8, the seismic activity changed significantly and the volcano entered a heightened period of activity indicative of a fresh batch of magma either near to or approaching the surface. It was followed by an explosive event at the volcano site after which the alert level was raised to 'red' and an evacuation order Issued.
On April 9, the La Soufriere volcano entered an explosive eruptive phase with the first column of ash as high as 10 km.
"Explosions and accompanying ashfall of similar or larger magnitude are likely to continue to occur over the next few days," according to the UN humanitarian office.
As evacuation efforts continue, pyroclastic flows (a cloud of hot ash and rock) has forced the closure of airports in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where maritime assets are few.
Leading regional airlines of the Caribbean, including LIAT and the Caribbean Airlines, have also announced suspension of flights to not just St Vincent but also Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, and Guyana.
Several other countries in the Caribbean, including Barbados have also suffered heavy ash deposits, with Prime Minister Mia Mottley announcing the start of a national clean-up, urging Barbadians to clear up the ash from around their homes and properties. Smaller ash deposits were also reported in Grenada and Saint Lucia.
While there have been no reports of any injuries or death, citing reports from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), officials indicate that about 20,000 evacuees on the Caribbean island are currently in need of shelter.
OCHA reported that as of yesterday, intervals between tremors have lasted between 1.5 to 3 hours, which, based on visual observations and satellite imagery, are associated with periods of explosive activity or enhanced venting of the volcano.
Agencies engaged in rescue efforts say that the current activity pattern is similar to that of the 1902 eruption and implies that the eruptions will cause more damage and destruction.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has also mobilised to support St Vincent and the Grenadines, offering support to house evacuees from the affected area.
The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) has been working alongside the St Vincent National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), the SRC and the Regional Security System (RSS).
NEMO reported that majority of the country remains out of power and is covered in ash. It said that the volcano continues to erupt explosively with the production of copious amounts of ash.
Even as rainfall has added to the weight of ash on buildings and the remobilization of material in streams, valleys and on hills, explosions and accompanying ashfall, of similar or larger magnitude, are likely to continue to occur over the next few days.
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