Ash covered much of the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent on Saturday, and the stench of sulfur filled the air after a series of eruptions from a volcano that had been quiet for decades.
The thick dust was also on the move, traveling 175km to the east and starting to affect the neighboring island of Barbados.
“Barbadians have been urged to stay indoors as thick plumes of volcanic ash move through the atmosphere,” the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency said.
The whitish powder caked roads, homes and buildings in St Vincent after the powerful blasts from La Soufriere volcano that began on Friday and continued into the night.
“Saturday morning on the island of over 110,000 residents looked like a winter wonderland, albeit blanketed by ash,” the news portal news784.com said.
Visibility in some areas was extremely limited, while in the capital, Kingstown, on the south of the island — the volcano is in the north — the ash caused a thin haze of dust, the portal said.
“Vincentians are waking up to extremely heavy ash fall and strong sulphur smells which have now advanced to the capital,” the local emergency management agency wrote on Twitter.
The eruptions prompted thousands of people to flee for safety. About 16,000 people live in areas under evacuation orders.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on Saturday said that water has been cut off in most areas and the country’s air space is closed because of the ash.
About 3,000 people spent the night in shelters.
“It’s a huge operation that is facing us,” Gonsalves told NBC News.
He said his government has been in contact with other countries that want to provide aid.
Guyana and Venezuela are sending ships with supplies, Gonsalves said.
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