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Nearly 20,000 people have been forced out of their homes on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent after a volcano erupted there for the first time in 40+ years.
Cruise ships are now evacuating people from the island — but only those vaccinated against COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/NCK9J3rr4m
— Norah O'Donnell 🇺🇸 (@NorahODonnell) April 9, 2021
Cruise ships have been dispatched to the island that is being partially evacuated after the 4,000-foot high volcano La Soufrière erupted on Friday.
But people have to be vaccinated before they board the cruise ship, Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said at a press conference the day after the eruption.
We are awaiting next steps from St. Vincent government on evacuation support. Meanwhile Carnival Legend has trained Deck&Engine team to help with passenger check-in. pic.twitter.com/gCUfjRd7Ih
— Carnival Cruise PR (@CarnivalPR) April 10, 2021
“The chief medical officer would be identifying the persons already vaccinated so that we can get them on the ship,” Gonsalves said.
More than 16,000 people are being evacuated from the “red zones” — the parts of the island in most danger. This map shows the danger zones on the island:
Some are due to be temporarily housed in the neighboring islands of St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, and Antigua.
It is said that most of the islands would require vaccination before they take anybody in.
“If people are willing to welcome you at a time of COVID-19, they will wish you to have the highest level of protection possible,” Gonsalves told reporters on Saturday.
St. Lucia is not requesting people to be vaccinated to come, he said, but it may require vaccination on arrival.
“We have to manage all of this during the time of COVID-19,” Gonsalves told NBC 6 on Sunday. “We have managed the pandemic quite well. We have had only 10 deaths.”
The eruption on Friday left the island struggling with power and water cuts. The island is covered in deep volcanic ash that is starting to harden on the ground, emergency officials on the island said in a tweet Sunday.
Day no 3 and everything looks like a battle zone. Dreary morning with the ash beginning to harden on the ground due to overnight showers. Many homes still without water and electricity #lasoufriereeruption2021 #hardenedash #morerain #inforthe long haul #
— NEMO SVG (@NEMOSVG) April 11, 2021
Gonsalves has also said some people don’t want to evacuate.
This could be because of a fear of vaccination, which may in turn put them off receiving other government help after the eruption.
“People are very scared of the vaccine and they opt out of coming to a shelter because eventually they would have to adhere to the protocol,” the opposition politician Shevern John said, according to Reuters.
Gonsalves has warned it could be up to four months before people are allowed to return home.