Evidence of effusive eruptions at the site of the La Soufriere Volcano, captured during an aerial survey on Thursday 31 December 2020. Image courtesy NEMO.

No evacuation order or notice has been issued by the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) of St Vincent and the Grenadines, as scientists continue to monitor activity at the La Soufriere Volcano.

This, from the most recent update from NEMO, issued at 8:00 pm on Saturday 2 January 2021, which also urges the public “to desist from visiting the La Soufriere Volcano until the scientists advise that it is safe to do so.”

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In La Soufriere Bulletin #5, NEMO confirms that the Alert level remains at Orange.

“The Volcano continues to exude magma on the surface and steam can still be observed from the Belmont Observatory. Persons living in areas close to the volcano should expect strong sulphur smells for several days to weeks, depending on changes in wind direction,” the advisory states.

NEMO reports that no aerial reconnaissance was done on Saturday because of the high wind advisory currently in effect for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

However, the team from The Seismic Research Centre, University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus (UWI-SRC)—led by Vincentian Geologist, Prof. Richard Robertson—continued work to upgrade the Volcano Monitoring System.

“The A Web Cam Monitoring System was installed at Rose Hall to constantly monitor the summit of the Volcano,” NEMO says.  “A Data Centre was also established at the Observatory at Belmont, to analyse the data collected from the volcano.  The team also conducted an alternate site exploration today at Fancy and other areas to identify new sites where equipment will be installed,” it adds.

Evidence of effusive eruptions at the site of the La Soufriere Volcano, captured during an aerial survey on Thursday 31 December 2020. Image courtesy NEMO.

NEMO also points out that an aggressive public information and education campaign continues over the next few days, with NEMO executives and UWI-SRC scientists sharing information and advice via the media, in radio and television programmes.

NEMO’s Director, Michelle Forbes, is scheduled to brief the Opposition Members of Parliament on Monday 4th December at 10:30 am.

According to the NEMO Bulletin, the North Windward District Disaster Committees will be meeting this week to sensitize the members of the communities and to update their community evacuation plans.

Last week, on Wednesday 30 December 2020, the North Leeward District Disaster Committees met sensitize members of the communities and to review the Volcano Emergency Plans developed in 2019, in preparation for the Trade Winds Exercise.  NEMO says during this meeting, the members of the committees revisited the rendezvous point, as well as the vulnerable persons data base.

OECS Heads meet, express solidarity

Attendees at the Emergency Meeting of the OECS Authority, on Thursday 31 December 2020. Image courtesy OECS Secretariat.

Meanwhile, an Emergency Meeting of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Authority was held virtually on December 31, 2020, under the Chairmanship of Dr Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica.

An official OECS communique reports: “the meeting was convened to discuss the particular challenges experienced by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, given the recent effusive eruptions at the La Soufrière; as well as the continued concerns of seismic activity from Mount Pelée in Martinique.”

According to the statement, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonzalves, detailed the situation in his country, and the events which led to the subsequent elevation of the alert level from ‘Green’ to ‘Orange’, on Tuesday the 29th December 2020.

A report was submitted by the UWI Seismic Research Centre for the OECS Heads consideration.  It assured Member States were assured that:

“Science does not suggest a connection between eruptions being triggered along the underwater volcanic chain of the OECS archipelago as a result of possible volcanic activities in Martinique and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.  Activities in other volcanoes in Member States are more likely to be linked to tectonic plate movements triggered by earthquakes and not the effusive eruptions currently being experienced in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.”

OECS Member States reportedly expressed solidarity with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Martinique “in these uncertain times”.

OECS Heads of Government in attendance at that meeting included:

  • Hon. Dr Roosevelt Skerrit, Chairman and Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica
  • Hon. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
  • Hon. Joseph Farrell, Premier of Montserrat
  • Hon. Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia
  • Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • The Rt. Hon. Dr Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada
  • Hon. Andrew Fahie, Premier of British Virgin Islands
  • Hon. Dr Ellis Webster, Premier of Anguilla
  • Miss Diana Perran, Vice President of the Regional Council, Guadeloupe