‘Explosive eruption confirmed’ at St. Vincent's La Soufrière volcano

Photo of the Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent posted on the UWI Seismic Research Centre's social media accounts.

Seismic experts’ prediction that the consistent spewing and gurgling of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ La Soufrière volcano would culminate in an eruption has come to pass.

At 8:52 a.m. (GMT-4) on April 9, the country's National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) tweeted just three words—”Explosive eruption confirmed”—an update that was shortly followed by the following tweet:

Following an emergency meeting on the afternoon of April 8, the government began to evacuate around 20,000 people living close to the volcano in the north of the island, approximately 18 per cent of the country's entire population.

As of six o'clock on the morning of April 9, NEMO confirmed that “evacuation from the Red Zone to [the] safe area” is ongoing. Evacuations have been taking place by both land and sea, with several regional territories, including St. Lucia and Barbados, offering to receive displaced people.

The University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Centre yesterday posted a photo of the dome taken just before sunset shrouded in an ominous glow:

By dawn, the images showed considerably more activity:

Thus far, ashfall is being recorded as far as Argyle International Airport, which is located about 19.2 km away from the volcano.

Many social media users shared photos and video of the eruption while imploring others to get to safety:

One Twitter user noted that this eruption comes just three days prior to the 42nd anniversary of the volcano's last flare-up:

Even as prayers went out on social media for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, some netizens were concerned about whether La Soufrière's eruption could trigger other activity in the region, a question @uwiseismic addressed in this tweet:

Others attempted to predict the path of the volcano's emissions:

One volcanologist, Dr. Jazmin Scarlett, who was praised for sharing regular updates on Twitter, noted that St. Vincent's turbulent history inspired her career path. The La Soufrière eruption of 1902 killed many Indigenous Black Caribs who had been banished by the British colonial government to live at Sandy Bay in the shadow of the volcano:

Even today, most residents of the island's northern area have Indigenous roots. The hope with this most recent eruption, however, is that history will not repeat itself.

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