UN chief concerned at effects of erupting La Soufrière volcanoMonday, April 19, 2021
UNITED NATIONS (CMC)— United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, Monday said that the volcanic crisis on the Caribbean island of St Vincent and the Grenadines “comes at a most difficult time” as scientists warn that the volcano continues to erupt.
Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the secretary-general, said that Guterres “expresses his deep solidarity with the people and Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines following the eruptions of the La Soufrière volcano” on April 9.
“This crisis comes at the most difficult time, as the world is grappling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and ahead of the hurricane season,” he said, adding that “the secretary-general commends the local response efforts underway and reiterates the full support of the United Nation”.
Last weekend, the United Nations announced it had released US$1 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to assist the emergency response and stands ready to provide additional help.
The Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of the University of the West Indies (UWI), said that the episode of continuous seismic tremor generated by explosive activity at La Soufrière, lasted until about 9:00 pm (local time) on Sunday.
In its latest bulletin on Monday, the SRC said that following this, small long-period and hybrid earthquakes started to be recorded again, at a rate similar to before the explosive activity. It said that this rate dropped significantly during the early hours of Monday.
“No volcano-tectonic earthquakes were recorded in the last 12 hours. One rockfall was recorded, at 1:39 am. Rockfalls can be generated by a growing lava dome, but this cannot be confirmed without visual observations,” the SRC said, noting that the continuous GPS (Global Positioning System) network has shown a change in horizontal and vertical movement since the initial depressurization noted immediately following the April 9 explosive phase.
It said that the continuous GPS network is used to track changes in ground shape on and around the volcano. As magma moves beneath the volcano, changes in pressure cause the volcano to change shape (inflate/deflate).
“These changes may suggest magma influx from deep within the sub-volcanic system, however more investigation is needed to confirm this interpretation,” the SRC said, adding “the volcano continues to erupt. Its pattern of seismic activity over the last few days is typical of the growth and destruction of lava domes”.
The SRC warned that explosions with accompanying ashfall, of similar or larger magnitude, can occur with little or no warning impacting St Vincent and neighbouring islands and that the volcano is at alert level Red.
Meanwhile, the government says it will, from Monday, resume the “Love Box”” of food to people who have been affected by the ongoing eruption of La Soufriere.
“We started the programme on Thursday and there are many farmers who have brought in goods. We have allocated to purchase half a million dollars' worth of goods thus far,” Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, told the Searchlight newspaper over the weekend.
“There are still some persons who had existing contracts with persons locally and also with persons in the region,” Caesar said, adding “we are having a discussion with them because at the end of the day, we want to ensure that food security, or food security at home is dealt with first and foremost.”
Caesar said that outside of the volcano Red Zone, there is still “good commodity stock and the quality is also good.
“There are persons, a lot of farmers, however, are contributing to the shelters, so they don't want to sell. But there are some persons who are willing to sell because of the large quantities they have, so we are working with them and the programme, the Love Box programme, is going to be starting back on Monday.”
He said that the programme will operate from Monday to Thursday, adding “we don't want to buy anything after Thursday because we don't want to keep the perishables.
“So the farmers will bring them, we purchase, the farmer would leave with a receipt and will take that to the Treasury, we are paying one week after so that we can do the processing and as soon as they are delivered, they are put in boxes, taken to the centres and are also taken to families who are vulnerable.”
Prime Minister, speaking on the Love Box initiative that had been launched during the campaign for the general elections last year, added “the good things about this programme, I would say to you, for those farmers who would have difficulties making a living, who may have some produce, they will make a living because the state would buy. And persons who don't have food, we will provide that food for them free.”
The Love Boxes will include fruits, vegetables, root crops, as well non-perishable items from the supermarket.
“So they get a good 40-50 pound box for people and those would be… especially for those who have not come out of areas of the Orange Zone and other areas further south, persons who have taken in people into their families and so on who need support, plus naturally, whatever food that NEMO, the National Emergency Management Organization provides.”
Caesar told reporters that 100 per cent of agriculture in Red Zone is lost, about 75 per cent in the orange, but the availability of commodities increase in the Green Zone
“So, basically, we are working with about four or 5,000 farmers still, out of the registered 8,000 farmers we have in the country, but persons have to do more washing of these commodities and water is an issue. So it is going to, basically, slow down everything.”
The eruption of the volcano on April 9 resulted in the contamination of the water supply to households, which, though largely restored, is being rationed.
Caesar said there was not yet any dollar value on the damage done to the agriculture sector.
“We have not gotten to that stage of doing the damage assessment.”
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login