St Vincent has declared a red alert after geologists and seismologists warned that the La Soufrière volcano on the island could erupt at any moment.
The St Vincent volcano red alert was issued on Thursday, with the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, ordering mass evacuation, promoting Carnival and Royal Caribbean to offer their help.
The St Vincent volcano red alert and evacuation order affects people living in so-called red zones in the northwest and northeast of the island. He said these residents needed to leave immediately as the volcano pumped out more smoke and steam.
I have issued an evacuation order to all residents living in the RED ZONES on the North East and the North West of the island. All residents are asked to act accordingly with immediate effect to ensure their safety and that of their families. pic.twitter.com/AJQlCDtOPg
— Ralph Gonsalves (@ComradeRalph) April 8, 2021
“There is now in the country an evacuation order,” Gonsalves said in a message broadcast on social media.
“Substantial prospect of disaster. Level 3 declared by Prime Minister. NEMO boss tells residents to ‘be ready, get your things in order,’” St. Vincent’s National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) tweeted on Thursday.
NEMO also said Royal Caribbean Group was sending a ship to help in the evacuation process, and it has been reported that Serenade of the Seas is on the way to the island.
Carnival Cruise Line confirmed it was sending Carnival Paradise and Carnival Legend to evacuate up to 3,000 people following the St Vincent volcano red alert.
“Carnival Cruise Line has agreed to send two ships to St. Vincent to support humanitarian efforts to evacuate residents who are under threat from the volcanic eruption of La Soufriere,” the cruise line said in a statement.
“Carnival Paradise should arrive to St. Vincent by 11 a.m. local time on Friday, and the Carnival Legend should arrive by approximately 2 p.m. on Friday,” Carnival told Cruise Industry News.
“Each ship will accommodate up to 1,500 residents who will be transported to neighboring islands which have agreed to offer refuge out of harm’s way,” the cruise line added.
Even during the emergency, Carnival Cruise Line will continue to adhere to all current anti-COVID-19 measures, except the requirement for COVID testing prior to boarding.
“All precautions will be taken to protect the health and safety of Carnival crew and the passengers who board the ships,” a spokesperson said.
The cruise industry is regularly involved in major humanitarian efforts, as cruise ships are able to provide accommodation to thousands of displaced persons, while their huge power production plants and water-generating abilities can help local communities.
Royal Caribbean stepped up to provide support to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013, while it also supported victims of the Australian bush fires last year and used its ships to deliver N-95 masks to China.
Cruise ships were also used in the humanitarian efforts following the Haitian earthquake in 2010, and the cruise industry was one of the first businesses to return to the stricken island, providing residents with an essential source of foreign revenue.