The Director of the Seismic Research Centre at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr. Erouscilla Joseph, says that Barbados should be prepared for ash emanating from the La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines “for days to weeks” in the first instance.
“Unfortunately the worst-case scenario is that this can go on for weeks because of the changes in the dynamics of the system. We just have to kind of keep monitoring the seismicity associated with the volcano and advise based on that,” she told a news conference at which Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley has urged Barbadians “not to panic” as a result of the tremendous amount of ash falling on the island since the volcano began explosive eruptions last week.
The UWI official said that given the previous eruption, which lasted six months to a year, “the long term span of the eruption in terms of the worst of it could be days to weeks”.
Volcanologist, Professor Richard Robertson, on Sunday warned that the ongoing eruption of La Soufriere volcano is in keeping with the events surrounding the 1902 eruption, which claimed 1,600 lives at a time when early warning systems and evacuation capabilities were not as advanced.
Prime Minister Mottley said that while it is understandable for Barbadians to be worried about the amount of ash falling on the island “we do not need to panic”.
“We certainly do not need to do things that escape common sense. The one theme through this is going to be is that we are going to fight this with common sense. It may need a few cents and dollars too, but the first thing that we need is common sense.”
Mottlety told reporters that the authorities have “already taken some steps” to deal with the situation, adding “it is one thing for me as Prime Minister to tell you I don’t know but in these matters, I have taken the advice of scientists and I believe that the country must also benefit from the advice I have taken”.
She warned Barbadians to be extremely careful when removing the ashes from their roofs and other places, given that several accidents can occur as people undertaken the cleaning up operations and the ash makes the place slippery.
Mottley and the UWI official urged residents to clean as frequently as possible, using light amounts of water, in a bid to prevent the ash from getting extremely heavy when wet and could lead to the destruction of property.
“It is the first for us in recent time in having to deal with the scale of the ash fall that we have had to.” Prime Minister Mottley said, recalling that ‘as a young child I would have remembered the eruption in 1979 and the extent to which the ash just literally …came into the glasses (while we were eating outside).
“I have no recollection of it being as comprehensively hazardous to the country as I see now,” she added.