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Prayers For St. Vincent : Volcano Could Have A Second Larger Eruption

The highest peak on the island of St. Vincent, La Soufrière began to erupt Friday morning, forcing thousands out of their homes as ash and smoke began to fill the air. Local residents may have thought that the worst was over but a larger eruption might just be on the way.

A geologist with the University of the West Indies Seismic Research center, Richard Robertson, stated that the volcano is in an explosive eruption phase; the initial eruption of dust and debris that hit St. Vincent on Friday is probably just the beginning. "The explosive eruption has started and it is possible you could have more explosions like these," he said during a press conference. "The first one is not necessarily the worst one, the first bang is not necessarily the biggest bang this volcano will give."

Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, placed an evacuation order for residents living on the northern side of the island on Thursday since they were located in the red volcano danger zone. Associated Press reported that close to 16,000 people were forced to leave their homes. Soot and ash has blanketed the neighborhoods and streets throughout the island on Saturday morning and the ash is expected to fall for the next few days, maybe even weeks.

The dome of the volcano was destroyed during the initial eruption on Friday shooting over 460 million cubic feet of debris in the atmosphere. The ash could travel as far as Jamaica and parts of South America, stated Robertson. The last time that this volcano had a major eruption was in 1979, and it lasted several weeks. Robertson hypothesizes that this current eruption will likely be bigger than the one in 1979 was. “We don’t know how much material is down there that wants to come out”

Fine ash particles are difficult to clean up and pose a respiratory risk for those who have underlying issues. Robertson recommended that anyone who has decided to stay on the island do the best they can with cleaning the ash before it settles or gets wet.

With more eruptions more possible than not, Robertson advised residents to move as far south as possible. The sounds of the magma moving inside of La Soufrière can be heard all through the night.