St Vincent volcano alert downgraded to orange


The plume from the La Soufriere eruption visible over the mountain. – Stephon Nicholas

THE volcano alert in St Vincent and the Grenadines has been downgraded from red to orange.

The country’s prime minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, confirmed this during a virtual press conference on Thursday morning.

It’s been a month since the La Soufriere volcano erupted. It has left many areas coated in ash and others affected by lahars (mudflow). Residents of the northern part of the island (the red zone) were evacuated after Gonsalves issued a red alert.

Evacuees have been staying at the homes of friends and family, at hotels or one of the 80-plus designated shelters.

On Monday, seismologist and vulcanologist Roderick Stewart said residents of the “orange zone” could begin returning to their homes. Gonsalves said it would be officially decided in Cabinet on Wednesday.

During the press conference on Thursday, he said, “On the matter of the alert level, yesterday the Cabinet formally decided to bring the alert level to orange.

“What that means, essentially, is absolutely you can’t go into the red zone unless you have permission by the state authorities. But all the orange zone (residents) people can go and return. And we will publish this…

“But what we are saying is, if you are staying in the lower part of Chateaubelair and in Fitz Hughes, that we do not want you to go back, and therefore we will prevent you from going back there, because we haven’t finished the cleaning of all the ash, and it doesn’t make sense you go back with all the ash on the street and so on.”

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