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Officials repeat calls for public to stay away from volcano

Officials repeat calls for public to stay away from volcano
Michelle Forbes, the director of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO)

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Despite being prohibited from visiting La Soufriere, members of the public have still been engaging in excursions to the mountain where ongoing effusive eruptions are taking place.

And officials continue to urge persons to safeguard their lives by desisting from visiting the volcano.

“…The gases are strong and as the dome gets closer to the top, the gases get stronger, you can smell the sulphur a bit more, so we really encourage persons to listen to the official information…” Michelle Forbes, the director of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) told SEARCHLIGHT this week.

Forbes said the team from the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC), led by geologist, Professor Richard Robertson carried out a reconnaissance mission to the top of La Soufriere on Tuesday.

On their way to the summit from the Leeward side of the island, Forbes said there were groups of people on that side, sightseeing as well.

NEMO’s director warned that this is dangerous because in the event that an explosive eruption takes place, sightseers could lose their lives.

While there is a strong sulphur smell in communities located near La Soufriere, it is not concentrated enough to cause harm to residents in these areas.

But Professor Robertson warned this week that the danger lies at the summit of the volcano; on the crater floor where magma is currently oozing slowly from the earth, and on the rim of the crater.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves also pleaded with persons this week to desist from going to La Soufriere, noting that all information on the situation is being disseminated by the relevant authorities.

“Nobody is hiding anything. You see all the images which are taken of the crater. If you go up there and you even take photographs, you’re not going to be able to interpret the photographs,” he said on Wednesday while speaking on NBC radio.

The prime minister noted that civilians visiting the volcano would not be able to provide any additional information than what is being provided by official souces.

“…What are you doing it for? To say that you put it on Facebook or some social media site of one kind or another to get some likes? Just please, just stay away…until it is safe to go,” Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves, who is the chairman of the National Emergency Council also expressed belief that some forest users may still be in the forests near to the volcano.

While there is no imminent danger or calls for evacuation, the prime minister said the site itself is considered dangerous and urged these forest users to heed the warnings being issued.

Installation of monitoring systems in various parts of the island continue as the UWI-SRC team moves to establish appropriate means of observing the activity.

To date, SVG has received aid from Martinique through a French military helicopter, which was used to take photos of the growing satellite dome this week.

Gonsalves said on Wednesday that assistance will also be granted through CDEMA, who are in the process of sourcing an aircraft from a private entity in Trinidad.

This aircraft will be used to collect samples of the growing dome.

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