Volcano Erupts in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Red Cross Canada | April 16, 2021

Red Cross volunteers handing out cases of bottled water Following months of heightened activity, the La Soufrière volcano on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent erupted producing a column of ash roughly 10 kilometres high and forcing the evacuation of more than 7,000 people. Government reports indicate that 16,000 people may need to be evacuated from the areas closest to the volcano. The eruption occurs at a time when people in the region are already dealing with a surge in COVID-19 cases as well as a dengue outbreak, resulting in increased risks for the further spread of these diseases.
The initial eruption has been followed by several more explosive events which are predicted to continue over the coming days and possibly weeks. According to the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), the areas closest to the volcano may be affected by fast-moving lava, volcanic ash, hot gases, and dangerous pyroclastic flows containing very hot solidified lava pieces. There are also reports of water disruptions due to a layer of ash covering much of the country caused by the continuing eruptions. Volcanic ash has even been reported in neighbouring countries such as Barbados. In St. Lucia and Dominica, where authorities are also preparing to support people evacuated from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
While the Red Cross had been preparing communities in advance of the eruption, people have now had to flee their homes and need assistance. Mothers, children, and people with disabilities or chronic health conditions are most in need. The Red Cross is working to register displaced people at evacuation shelters and distributing hygiene kits, blankets, mattresses and water to people affected by the volcano. As evacuations can be chaotic, the Red Cross is also providing support to separated families to ensure they can be reconnected with their loved ones. As the volcano continues to erupt, the Red Cross will continue to meet the emerging needs of people impacted.

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