St Vincent Residents Urged To ‘Hope For The Best’ Amid Volcano Threat

(CMC) — Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has called on residents to hope for the best even as his government plans for the worst, as the La Soufriere volcano began an effusive eruption — where magma oozes from the volcano.

“All the residents in the communities between Fancy to Georgetown and from North Leeward areas, from Belle Isle upwards, you have to be on alert, especially,” Gonsalves told a media briefing here late Tuesday.

“At relatively short notice, you may get — MAY — an order to evacuate if, in fact, we have the scientific information that an explosive eruption will be occurring or at least the likelihood of it,” the prime minister said.

Gonsalves said that the National Emergency Management Organisation had been briefing him on the activities of the volcano for several weeks and months and the government has been in discussion with the Seismic Research Centre at the University of the West Indies.

He urged residents not to “tempt fate”, saying, “Nobody should be going up there and if you are up there, you have to come out cause the place there will be very hot.”

There is widespread illegal cultivation of marijuana on the slope of the volcano, and several of those farmers live on their farms.

Gonsalves said that all recreational visits to the volcano are to be suspended with immediate effect.

“And please, I am asking you to refrain from visiting the volcano at this time due to the heat itself, but very much so the strong sulphur can also affect your respiratory system. And, of course, if you are up there, you don’t want to be there if you have an explosive eruption. That is why you can’t go and tempt fate.”

The prime minister said that, among other things, the National Emergency Management Council, at its meeting on Tuesday, would follow through elements of the national emergency plan as it relates specifically to the volcano.