• April 19, 2024

La Soufrière Continues To Erupt : NPR

The vehicles are covered with ash that was created on Sunday when the volcano La Soufrière erupted on the outskirts of Bridgetown in Barbados in St. Vincent. Chris Brandis / AP hide caption

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Chris Brandis / AP

The vehicles are covered with ash that was created on Sunday when the volcano La Soufrière erupted on the outskirts of Bridgetown in Barbados in St. Vincent.

Chris Brandis / AP

Conditions on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent have worsened Soufriere The volcano continues to push ash and debris into the atmosphere. Dozens of people have been rescued from the northern part of the island after refusing to evacuate last week. Officials are warning anyone who is still in the red and orange zones to flee as the mountain poses a new threat to anyone who is still in the area.

There is evidence of pyroclastic flowsRichard Robertson, senior scientist at the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center, said in an avalanche of overheated gas and debris moving along the mountainside in areas around the volcano at speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour Sunday news conference. These currents are the volcano’s most dangerous feature, he said, as opposed to a slow-moving lava flow.

As La Soufrière continues to explode, ashes and debris are thrown into the air. Sometimes there isn’t enough force behind the materials to move further up and the ash plume collapses on itself and shoots back, Robertson said. These gas clouds can reach scorching temperatures and carry car-sized boulders as the streams flow through valleys along the mountain. As soon as the pyroclastic currents hit the coast, the sea water begins to boil and the clouds pick up speed, racing over the surface of the water and away from the land until they run out of energy.

“These currents are really moving masses of destruction,” said Robertson. “They just destroy everything in its path. Even if you have the strongest house in the world, they’ll just loot it from the ground.”

These currents can occur when the volcano goes through periods of explosive activity and venting. Every hour and a half to three hours, explained Robertson, La Soufrière rumbles and shakes as the mountain vents more ash. This activity can create pyroclastic currents anywhere on the volcano and threaten anyone who hasn’t evacuated last week.

During the press conference, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said the Coast Guard had rescued dozens of people from the northern part of the island since the volcano began to break out on Friday Tomorrow. The areas closest to the volcano had to be evacuated last week, but some people decided to stay to put rescuers at risk.

“I ask for people, please, it’s past the hour to get out,” said Gonsalves. “And we still have to try to get you out.”

Around 16,000 people have already been evacuated, The Associated Press reportedAbout 3,200 of them fled to 78 government-run shelters.

Robertson said things are likely to get worse before they get better. Instruments monitoring the outbreak have shown no evidence that activity is subsiding. The volcano, he explained, showed a pattern similar to that of the volcanic eruption in 1902, which killed around 1,600 people.

“That means it is likely to cause more damage and destruction to St. Vincent, unfortunately,” said Robertson.

But the volcano doesn’t just affect the people of St. Vincent. The winds carried ash all the way to Barbados, about 120 miles east. Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said the country must prepare for weeks of ash fall and tough times.

“As bad as it is, it can be worse, and that’s the first thing we need to know,” she said in one press conference Sunday. “We live in uncertain times.”

The volcano erupts on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent as evacuation continues

Dr. Erouscilla Joseph, director of the UWI Seismic Research Center, said the winds that carry the debris east across the island can also orbit back, covering the island with more ash from the west.

“Unfortunately, the worst case scenario is that this could go on for weeks because of the changes and dynamics of this system,” said Joseph. “We must continue to monitor the seismicity associated with the volcano and advise based on it.”


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