Tens of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes on the Caribbean Island of St. Vincent, which has been blanketed in volcano ash, after the island’s largest volcano has been erupting for more than a week.
The first volcanic eruption from La Soufrière, which has been dormant since 1979, occurred on Friday Apr. 9, spewing hot ash 20,000 feet into the air. Experts have compared the recent volcanic activity to a eruption in 1902, which was the worst in St. Vincent’s history and killed about 1,600 people.
It has been followed by smaller explosions over the following days. Emergency officials said there were hardened ash on the ground, and many homes were left without water and electricity, CNN reported.
The smoke and volcanic ash in the atmosphere from the ongoing eruptions have also threatened water and food supplies.
The UN said on Monday Apr. 13 that about 20,000 people, or roughly one-fifth of the population, have been displaced, and the entire population of the main island of St. Vincent has been left without electricity or clean drinking water.
Airports have been shut down and maritime travel has been limited, which has hampered support efforts.
While there are no reports of injuries or death, officials say they expect further activity at La Soufrière.
Residents on the island have fled their homes to government-run shelters around the island or to nearby islands via cruise ships. The nearby Caribbean islands St Lucia, Antigua and Grenada have opened their borders for the evacuees.