Prime Minister Gonsalves said on Thursday that in order to board the cruise ships sent to evacuate people from the island, evacuees must be vaccinated, while the nearby island nations that are planning to accept refugees will also require vaccinations. Mr. Gonsalves also recommended that those who arrive in shelters on St. Vincent be vaccinated as well.
Islands that have said they would accept evacuees include Antigua, St. Lucia, Grenada and Barbados.
“Amazing on this dangerous road to Jericho we have the good Samaritans,” Mr. Gonsalves said at a news conference on Friday. “It brings home that we are one Caribbean family.”
Scientists warned that eruptions could continue over days and even weeks.
“Once it has started it’s possible you could have more explosions,” said Richard Robertson, a professor of geology at the University of the West Indies, during Friday’s news conference. “The first bang is not necessarily the biggest bang this volcano will give.”
Some of the most destructive volcanic eruptions on record are part of the history of the Caribbean’s mountainous islands. In 1995, the Soufrière Hills volcano on Montserrat, a British territory, roared back to life after more than three centuries of dormancy. Over the next two years it would bury half the 39-square-mile island in ash and rock, including the capital, Plymouth, and render much of Montserrat uninhabitable.
Grenville Draper, a geologist at Florida International University, called it “the last really long-lived eruption” in the region.
Mr. Draper said the greatest peril from the St. Vincent eruption was not from lava, which is generally slow moving in Caribbean volcanoes, but from pyroclastic flows — fast-moving avalanches of searing hot gas and volcanic debris.
“If it starts producing pyroclastic flows, then it’s very, very dangerous anywhere on the flanks of the volcano,” he said.