KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — Leaders of volcano-wracked St. Vincent said Tuesday that water is running short as thick ash contaminates provides and they estimated the southern Caribbean island will probably need hundreds of millions of dollars to get over the eruption of La Soufriere.
Between 16,000 to 20,000 people have been evacuated in the island’s northern region, where the exploding volcano is located, with more than 3,000 of these staying at more than 80 government shelters.
“We must get things rolling into individuals,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said in a media conference on local channel NBC Radio.
However, no casualties are reported since the first big blast in the volcano early Friday. “We have to try to keep that record,” he explained. Gonsalves said some people have refused to depart communities closest to the volcano and encouraged them to evacuate.
He estimated the country will need hundreds of millions of dollars to get over the eruption, but did not offer any particulars.
Falling ash and pyroclastic flows have ruined crops and contaminated water reservoirs.
“The windward (eastern) shore is our biggest challenge today,” he stated during the press conference of attempts to deploy trucks. “What we’re providing is a limited amount. We will come to an end at some stage.”
The prime minister said individuals in some shelters need food and water, and he thanked neighboring nations for imports of items including cots, respiratory masks and water tanks and bottles. In addition, the World Bank has disbursed $20 million into the government of St. Vincent as part of an interest-free crisis financing program.
Adam Billing, a retired police officer who lived and tended to his crops on land close to the volcano, said he had more than 3 acres of plantains, tannias, yams and a variety of veggies and estimates he lost over $9,000 worth of crops.
“Everything (means) livelihood is gone. Everything,” said Billing, who was evacuated. “We have to look at the next few months as it is not going to be a quick fix from the authorities.”
The volcano, which had witnessed a low-level eruption since December, experienced the first of several significant explosions on Friday morning, and volcanologists say activity could last for months.
Another explosion was reported Tuesday morning, sending a second massive plume of ash into the air. It came on the anniversary of the 1979 eruption, the previous one produced from the volcano until Friday morning. A prior eruption in 1902 murdered some 1,600 individuals.
“It is still a Fairly dangerous volcano,” stated Richard Robertson with the University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Center. “It can still cause severe damage.”