One of the largest explosive episodes to rock St. Vincent and the Grenadines since the La Soufriere volcano erupted on Thursday April 8, occurred early Monday morning officials say.
Director of the National Disaster Management Organisation, Michelle Forbes, reported via the National Broadcasting Corp, “at around 4:15 [a.m.] thereabouts, we had one of the largest explosive episodes we would have had since this eruption.
“We have been in contact with Professor Roberts who indicated that there is a possible dome collapse and pyroclastic flows seen going down either side of the mountain both on the … western coast and on the eastern coast down the valleys around Sandy Bay, Owia area maybe Rabacca, we don’t know as yet. But this was certainly one of the biggest explosive eruptions since it began …”
The Director also warned that no official assessment of the extent of the damages sustained would be carried out before daybreak, though she hoped “that persons would have evacuated those communities. We have been asking them for some time, if you’re in the red zone in particular, to leave; but unfortunately there are some persons who still did not leave and [continue to] refuse to leave. So we’re just checking in with those communities to see if we hear anything or make any contact with those persons who we know would have remained in those communities.”
Pyroclastic flows are hot mixtures of rock fragments, gas and ashes that travel rapidly, at ground level, away from an explosively eruptive volcano. They are known to be extremely destructive because of their high temperature and mobility www.usgs.gov explains.
Regarding the current status of persons yet to obey local evacuation warnings, Senator Shevern Lewis-John told Asbert News Network, “according to reports the Coast Guard went up there yesterday and they brought down some persons and those who stayed were very adamant that they were not going anywhere, about 7 or so of them. This was in Owia. I think those who were left behind in Point were all evacuated but I am not sure about as to the status of those in Sandy Bay.
“What I know is that a notice was posted for them to get to Owia to catch the Coast Guard but they had to get there on foot because no one knew of the precise conditions out there. Those in Fancy – I think probably 3 or so persons remain in Fancy.”
Senator Lewis-John noted that her efforts to reach a contact person who has been actively posting his experiences on social media even as he attempted to offer some measure of security for the evacuated properties have so far been futile.
She also reported, “my nephew went up there yesterday via boat to assist also. He said that the place was really heartbreaking to look at; a lot of build of ash on people’s homes so we’re not sure as to the extent of the damages yet but there were a lot of dead farm animals, especially those that were tied. It is sad.”
Officials anticipate that this eruptive episode may be worse than the most recent volcanic eruption which occurred some 42 years ago.