There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths, but government officials were scrambling to respond to Monday’s eruption, which was even larger than the first eruption that occurred on Friday morning.

The La Soufrière volcano fired a huge amount of ash and hot gases in the largest explosive eruption since volcanic activity began on the eastern Caribbean island of Saint-Vincent at the end of last week, the officials worrying for the lives of those who refused to evacuate.

Experts called it a “huge explosion” which generated pyroclastic flows along the southern and southwestern flanks of the volcano.

“It destroys everything in its path,” Erouscilla Joseph, director of the Center for Seismic Research at the University of the West Indies, told The Associated Press. “Anyone who ignored the evacuation must get out immediately.”

There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths, but government officials were scrambling to respond to Monday’s eruption, which was even larger than the first eruption that occurred on Friday morning.

About 16,000 people living in communities near the volcano had been evacuated Thursday on government orders, but an unknown number remained behind and refused to budge.

Richard Robertson, with the Seismic Research Center, told local NBC Radio station that the old and new dome of the volcano had been destroyed and a new crater had been created. He said the pyroclastic flows would have wiped out everything in their path.

“Everything that was there, man, animal, everything… they’re gone,” he said. “And it’s terrible to say it. Joseph said the last explosion was equivalent to the one that occurred in 1902 and killed some 1,600 people. The volcano last erupted in 1979. Ashes from ongoing explosions fell on Barbados and other neighboring islands.

A government minister who visited the northeastern region of the island on Sunday said he saw around two or three dozen people staying in the community of Sandy Bay alone, prompting Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to urge them people leaving.

“It’s high time for you to go,” he said. “It’s dangerous.” Emergency management officials have warned they will arrest anyone, resident or otherwise, caught inside the red zone without police permission. The communities in the red zone are the closest to the volcano.

Two young men, Codrian Simmons and Rashon Charles, have been praised for their courage in helping to evacuate some 115 people from communities at risk.

“The monstrous force of this volcano has been an out of (this) world experience,” Simmons told the AP, adding that the experience was traumatic and the inhabitants of the shelters were asking for help and supplies, including water, dry products, linens and toiletries. “It’s heartbreaking!” Ongoing volcanic activity threatened water and food supplies as the government was forced to drill fresh water and distribute it by trucks.

“We cannot tarp a river,” said Garth Saunders, the island’s minister of water and sewage authority, of the impossibility of trying to protect the current water sources from the sea. ash fall.

He told NBC Radio that officials were also trying to set up water distribution points.

Meanwhile, Mr Gonsalves said government officials were meeting on Monday afternoon to discuss the food supply difficulties.

Deputy Prime Minister Montgomery Daniel told the radio station that the damage was extensive in the northeast region of the island, which he visited on Sunday. Forests and farms were wiped out, coconut, breadfruit, mango and soursop trees were destroyed, along with plantain and banana crops.

“What I saw was really terrible,” he said.

Camp beds, tents, water tanks and other basic supplies poured into St. Vincent as neighboring nations rushed to help those affected by the eruptions. At least four empty cruise ships have floated nearby, waiting to transport the evacuees to other islands that have agreed to receive them temporarily, including Antigua and Grenada. Mr Gonsalves, however, said he expected his administration to cancel cruise ships, as the vast majority of people appear to be staying in St. Vincent for the time being.

The only people evacuated from Saint-Vincent by cruise ship are 136 farm workers who are part of a seasonal farming program and have been stranded on the island. The group was supposed to travel to Canada, but their flight was canceled following Friday’s explosion. They arrived in St. Lucia on Saturday and will board a flight to Canada from there.

Gonsalves told NBC Radio on Sunday that his government would do everything possible to help people forced to abandon their homes in communities filled with ash.

“It’s a huge operation that awaits us,” he said. “It’s going to be expensive, but I don’t want us to look at a dime … it’s going to be a long drive.” Mr Gonsalves said it would take four months for life to return to normal in Saint Vincent, which is part of an island chain that includes the Grenadines. The majority of the 1,000,000 inhabitants live in Saint-Vincent.

Among them is Ranique Chewitt, a 32-year-old saleswoman who lives in South Rivers, located southeast of the volcano.

He did not have to evacuate, but said he was worried about his health and water supply and had not left the house since the first eruption on Friday morning: “I’m out of breath at because of the dust and I’m inside. ” The pandemic is also complicating response efforts. At least 14 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported since the eruptions began on Friday, and everyone who visits shelters is being tested. Those who test positive are taken to isolation centers. More than 3,700 people are in 84 government shelters.

The Eastern Caribbean has 19 living volcanoes, 17 of which are located on 11 islands. The other two are located underwater near Grenada, including one called Kick ‘Em Jenny which has been active in recent years. The most active volcano of all is the Soufriere Hills in Montserrat, which has erupted continuously since 1995, destroying the capital of Plymouth and killing at least 19 people in 1997.