Ash and smoke billow as the La Soufriere volcano erupts in Kingstown on the eastern Caribbean island of St Vincent on Friday, April 9, 2020 – STRINGER / Reuters

CMC: ST VINCENT — Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says his administration is taking all the necessary steps to protect citizens as the La Soufreire volcano continues to spew ash after roaring to life 24 hours ago.

Speaking on radio early Saturday, the Prime Minister said the Government has, in addition to shelters, booked approximately 800 rooms in guest houses and hotels to accommodate large families, persons with disabilities and others.

Concerning the latest reports following a third eruption the Prime Minister said some homes may have been damaged.

“This is from the weight of the ash in certain areas. I am hopeful that we don’t have any hardened people who believe that they can tough this out by themselves in the red zones or areas adjacent to the red zones because a lot of ash has fallen.”

“Clearly it (the ash) has spread throughout the entire island ….in the shelters last evening, the number which they (NEMO) was working with – there were over two thousand persons in shelters but this morning, the overnight number has pushed it in excess of 3,200.”

He also urged people at shelters to be “patient and calm”.

“I want to make a point in relation to this – you may have 70 people in a shelter at a time when an assessment is made concerning the commodities sent to the shelter, but in an hours time, you may have another 30 persons who turn up. So if they are catering for 70 and more are added I’m asking persons to be patient and calm. We will accommodate and make provisions to those who want to go to shelters but I’m just asking for calm, let us be orderly and let us be disciplined.

Speaking on local radio, Professor Richard Robertson said that breathing in volcanic ash could cause health problems, and the particles could become a major inconvenience if they get inside buildings.

Ash has fallen in most areas of the island including capital city Kingstown, in the south of the island, after a series of explosive volcanic eruptions sent plumes up to 51,000 feet into the air.

“Everybody in St Vincent needs to be more aware of what volcanic ash is, because even if you’ve been evacuated, it is possible for the ash to get to you,” Robertson said.