Empty cruise ships used to evacuate thousands from volcano-stricken paradise

Carnival Paradise

Empty cruise ships were scheduled to arrive at the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent to help transport thousands of people who evacuated their homes under the fiery glow of La Soufriere volcano which officials said could erupt at any moment.

St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalve issued an evacuation order after seismologists declared a "red alert" due to an impending eruption from La Soufrière.

Erouscilla Joseph, director of the University of the West Indies Seismic Center, said on Friday that the ash column is estimated to have risen as high as 10 kilometers (6 miles).

People are to be put aboard cruise ships and head for nearby islands or shelters elsewhere in St. Vincent.

Further explosive eruptions are expected at La Soufriere volcano in the coming days and weeks, following the first this morning, as lead scientist Professor Richard Robertson indicated the largest explosion may be yet to come.

He said that Barbados and St. Lucia are willing to receive evacuees, but they will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Gonsalves added that he highly recommends those who opt to go to a shelter in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, an island chain of more than 100,000 people, be vaccinated.

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He also said he was working with other Caribbean governments to ensure that they could accept an ID card since not everyone has a passport.

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

Carnival told Cruise Industry News on Thursday that each ship will accommodate as many as 1,500 residents who will be taken to neighboring islands and assured that "all precautions will be taken to protect the health and safety of Carnival crew and the passengers who board the ships". 'That is the worst thing to do'.

This comes after days of seismic activity recorded in the area and after the volcano had an effusive eruption in late December.

[Updated] The Premier has extended his thoughts and prayers to the people of St. Vincent & The Grenadines as they face the possible eruption of the volcano La Soufriere.

The prime minister said that his government has been in contact with friendly nations, including the United States, Cuba, and Venezuela to discuss possible assistance. An earlier eruption, in 1902, killed almost 1,700 people.

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