St Vincent warns of water shortages as volcanic eruptions continue | News on humanitarian crises

The Caribbean island is covered in ash from the La Soufrière volcano, ruining crops and contaminating water supplies.

Officials on the Caribbean island of St Vincent have warned residents are facing water shortages as ash from La Soufrière volcano has contaminated local supplies.

The volcano erupted again around 6 a.m. local time (10 a.m. GMT) on Tuesday – the fifth consecutive day of explosions – and sent plumes of smoke into the air, along with ash and other volcanic material. flowing down its sides.

Between 16,000 and 20,000 people were evacuated from areas near the volcano, including around 3,000 living in more than 80 government-run shelters.

Soufriere first erupted on Friday, after the government issued a mandatory evacuation order, and experts said people could expect the volcano to continue to erupt over several days.

Local residents fill containers with water after a series of eruptions from the La Soufrière volcano blanketed the area with a thick layer of ash [Robertson S Henry/Reuters]

The Central Water and Wastewater Authority has not been able to recover water from water sources since the volcano erupted, government spokesman Sehon Marshall said, resulting in a more than 50% depletion of water storage.

On Tuesday, dozens of people lined up to receive water or collect money sent by friends and family overseas.

“No water, a lot of dust in our house. We thank God we’re alive, but we need more help right now, ”retired police officer Paul Smart, who stood in a crowd, told The Associated Press.

The island was covered with ash from the volcano, which ruined crops and contaminated water supplies.

“We are still looking for clean water and food,” Jenetta Young Mason, 43, told Reuters, 43, who fled her home in the danger zone to stay with relatives.

During a press conference on local station NBC Radio, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said St Vincent would need hundreds of millions of dollars to recover from the eruption, but did not provide more details.

He added that no casualties had been reported to date. “We have to try to keep this record,” he said.

Local resident cleans ash from roof after series of La Soufrière volcano eruptions [Robertson S Henry/Reuters]

Gonsalves continued to urge residents who refused to leave their homes in areas near the volcano to evacuate as soon as they can.

La Soufrière last erupted in 1979, while a previous eruption in 1902 killed around 1,600 people.

On Monday, spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the entire population of the main island was without electricity and clean water.

Stéphane Dujarric said around 20,000 people were in need of shelter, according to reports received from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“The eruption affected most livelihoods in the northern part of the island, including banana cultivation, with ash and lava flows hampering the flow of people and goods,” Dujarric said. during a briefing.

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