Heavy ashfall rained down on parts of the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent on Saturday and a strong sulfur smell enveloped communities a day after a powerful explosion at La Soufriere volcano. Caribbean nations including Antigua and Guyana have offered help by either shipping emergency supplies or temporarily opening their borders to the roughly 16,000 evacuees fleeing ash-covered communities with as many personal belongings as they could stuff into suitcases and backpacks, per the AP. The volcano, which last had a sizable eruption in 1979, kept rumbling and experts warned that explosions could continue for days or weeks. A previous eruption in 1902 killed some 1,600 people.
“The first bang is not necessarily the biggest bang this volcano will give,” Richard Robertson, a geologist with the University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Center, said during a news conference. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves asked people to remain calm, have patience, and keep protecting themselves from the coronavirus as he celebrated that no deaths or injuries were reported after the eruption in the northern tip of St. Vincent. The island is part of a chain that includes the Grenadines and is home to more than 100,000 people. “Agriculture will be badly affected, and we may have some loss of animals, and we will have to do repairs to houses, but if we have life, and we have strength, we will build it back better, stronger, together,” he said in a local radio interview.
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