The Caribbean island of St. Vincent had issued a red alert and issued an evacuation order after seismologists warned that La Soufrière volcano showed signs of an imminent eruption.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves issued an order Thursday after several days of escalating earthquakes.
The country’s National Emergency Management Organization said on Twitter there was a “huge chance of disasters”; and warned residents to “prepare for things in order”.
“A safe area where people will be evacuated from North Union to Kingstown, on the Windward side of Barrouallie Island, to Kingstown, on the Leeward side and to the Grenadine Islands,” Nemo tweeted.
Cruises from the Royal Caribbean line are heading to the island to help evacuate, Nemo said.
Geologist Richard Robertson said La Soufrière could erupt in hours or days, according to St Vincent News online newspaper 784.
Monitoring stations have reported a prolonged earthquake indicating fresh magma is trying to reach the surface and indicating that the volcano is moving towards the surface. “Explosive”
Videos posted on social media showed smoke towering over a volcano, the highest point in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
La Soufrière has been active since November. On Monday, researchers at the University of the West Indies reported that the monitoring station had detected “small volcanic-crustal earthquakes” that continued to increase in magnitude.
“The earthquake struck under the summit of the volcano at a depth of 6 km, the largest of which was 3.5 in magnitude, felt by villagers living near the volcano,” UWI said in a statement.
La Soufrière’s most devastating eruption was in 1902, when approximately 1,600 people died, most of them indigenous Caribs.
The last eruption was in April 1979, but there were no deaths since people in the area were evacuated.