By Elesha George
Philmore Mullin, Director of the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS), says the office is “tidying up arrangements” that will allow Antigua to receive and host evacuees from St Vincent, if necessary.
“We have been meeting primarily and discussing most of today and making sure that the stakeholders that would be involved in something like this are aware of exactly what their responsibilities would be and making sure all the logistical arrangements that need to be in place are in fact in place,” he explained.
NODS is carrying out the final inspection of the accommodation to be used for the evacuees.
On Thursday, Director of National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), Michelle Forbes advised St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, to implement an evacuation order for the premises in the red zone on the North East and North West of St Vincent and of the area itself. She also advised that no vessels or vehicles should enter these areas except for evacuation purposes.
During a meeting with the National Emergency Management Council, Dr Gonsalves said he received a message from Professor Richard Robertson, Head of the Seismic Research Centre, who has a team located in St Vincent, that matters had deteriorated further at La Soufriere.
Robertson said from Thursday morning they would have witnessed six spheres of tremors within a two-to-two-and-a-half-hour period. The latest sphere, however, was accompanied by gas venting at the volcano which indicated increased chances of an eruption, thus the decision to evacuate.
Robertson said yesterday that he would not be surprised if there were more significant explosions from the volcano within the next 24 to 48 hours.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gonsalves noted that “all arrangements have now kickstarted and the process begins”.
He said the heads of all subcommittees in NEMO know what they have to do as he asked residents to remain calm and not to panic.
Dr Gonsalves also shared that “Royal Caribbean is offering three vessels, three ships. Two of them will come by tomorrow morning, a third one will come subsequently and Carnival Cruise Lines through the Minister of Tourism, has indicated that by tomorrow evening there should be two cruise ships by Carnival”.
The first cruise ship will be used to transport residents to be evacuated to other islands including St Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, Antigua.
Just hours before the evacuation order, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Simone Keizer-Beache told residents to get vaccinated “now” in the event that they will have to go to shelters or be evacuated abroad.