Dr Ralph Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines addressed his country this morning following the explosive eruption of the La Soufriere volcano.
Gonsalves updated Vincentians on the natural disaster which has been unfolding since late December 2020.
He says the evacuation process which started on April 8 at 4:30 pm, two hours before nightfall, continues. Gonsalves says the NEMO systems have been working but there were some hiccups particularly in road transportation on the northern side.
He says this was partly understandable given the hour itself. The movement of minibuses did happen a little later as opposed to the good movement on the Leeward side which had vessels.
The estimate given is that 4,500 persons were moved by boats, minibuses and private transportation. NEMO’s Director Michelle Forbes has informed him that roughly 2,000 people are inside 20 operational shelters.
The prime minister admits some of the shelters are at a better level of preparedness than others, while some persons have gone into guest houses and hotels. He intends to have more elderly persons, people who have shut-ins and health problems, placed in the guest houses and hotels which have 800 rooms.
It was noted these hotels have asked for persons to be vaccinated and tested for COVID-19.
Gonsalves says in terms of the movement of evacuees regionally, Dominica, Grenada and Antigua will be ready by Sunday or Monday to receive persons.
He says two cruise ships are already in the harbour; however, the ships do not have enough personnel at the moment to keep people on the ships, but they do have enough to transport persons to the various destinations.
He reiterated that at 8:42 am on April 9 an explosive eruption occurred at La Soufriere volcano.
The ash plume extended vertically to about 10 kilometers.
The prime minister says he was advised that a pilot departing Canouan reported ash plume up to 25,000 feet heading westward. The evacuation continues. The prime minister is calling on all minibus drivers and persons with private vehicles to help move persons.