Conditions worsened at a volcano on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent on Sunday, as residents experienced loud rumbling, lightning and heavy ashfall. The eruption of La Soufrière forced many residents to evacuate their homes, though some remained in place. The rumbling was heard in the capital of Kingstown, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south.
About 16,000 people have fled, however there have been no reports of anyone being killed or injured. Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of the 32 islands that make up the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, has said people should remain calm and remain vigilant in protecting themselves from the coronavirus. He said officials were trying to figure out the best way to collect and dispose of the ash, which covered an airport runway near Kingstown, and fell as far away as Barbados, about 120 miles (190 kilometers) to the east.
About 3,200 people took refuge at 78 government-run shelters, and four empty cruise ships stood ready to take other evacuees to nearby islands, with a group of more than 130 already taken to St. Lucia. Nearby nations, including Antigua and Grenada, also offered to take in evacuees. Those staying at the shelters were tested for COVID-19, with anyone testing positive being taken to an isolation center.