St Vincent: Ralph Gonsalves calls on citizens to evacuate
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The plea from the leader of the small island in the Caribbean comes as clean water supplies become scarce on St Vincent after volcanic ash from recent eruptions poisoned local reservoirs. La Soufriere volcano began to violently erupt on Friday last week, belching out a column of hot ash six miles into the atmosphere Prime Minister Gonsalves told islanders it was ‘over time’ for people to leave.
During an emergency broadcast on NBC Radio Station Vincent and the Grenadines, he said: “It is overtime for you to leave.
“It is highly dangerous.”
The official’s pleas came as up to 20,000 people have been forced to flee from the island’s northern region close to the base of La Soufriere, while an additional 3,000 citizens have sought shelter in 80 government shelters.
Though last week’s violent eruption has yet to claim any casualties, concerns remain for the safety of the island’s 130,000 or so inhabitants.
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Food and water have become scarce after ashfall and pyroclastic flows made up of fast-moving lava, ash, and hot gases destroyed crops and contaminated water sources.
Mr Gonsalves told local NBC Radio he believed the island would need “hundreds of millions of dollars” to recover from the disaster.
St Vincent volcano: La Soufriere eruption rains down ash
Incredible footage recorded by an inhabitant caught up in the aftermath of the eruptions shows a road at night completely covered over amidst a blizzard of falling ash.
Elsewhere another clip captures a huge column of hot smoke and ash billowing out of the top of La Soufrière.
A woman can be heard commenting: “It growing even more.”
Another video recorded from inside of a moving car and shows the volcano’s impressive plume choking out the sky.
A person can be heard shouting inside of the vehicle: “Holy, it really erupts. My God.”
The volcano last erupted in 1979, although its deadliest blast occurred in 1902.
The 1902 eruption, which went off on May 6, killed some 1,680 people.
Just hours later, the eruption of Mount Pelee on the island of Martinique in the West Caribbean killed 29,000 people.
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