A volcano in the southern Caribbean that had been dormant for decades erupted in a billowing blast of gray smoke Friday, spewing clouds of ash for miles and forcing thousands to evacuate.
The volcano, known as La Soufrière, on the northern tip of the main island of St. Vincent, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, had started showing signs of renewed activity in late December. It moved into an “explosive state” on Friday morning, the National Emergency Management Organization said in a Twitter posting.
The emergency management agency said that the ash fall had been registered as far as the country’s international airport on the southern part of the island — more than 12 miles away — while an ash plume had billowed 20,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean.
Video clips shot in Chateaubelair, a town on the foothills of the volcano, showed the sky darkened by ash as people wearing face masks trudged through the streets lugging their belongings.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the eruption, and the extent of any damage in the surrounding area was unclear.
The eruption came a day after officials had raised the alert level following several small tremors detected at the volcano, with clouds of steam seen erupting from its peak. The country’s prime minister, Ralph Gonsalves, ordered a full evacuation of the area.
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