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New blast at St. Vincent volcano; cruise ship helps evacuees

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Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

British, Canadian and U.S. nationals line up alongside the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Reflection to be evacuated free of charge, in Kingstown on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent, Friday, April 16, 2021. La Soufriere volcano has shot out another explosive burst of gas and ash Friday morning as the cruise ship arrived to evacuate some of the foreigners who had been stuck on a St. Vincent island by a week of violent eruptions. (AP Photo/Orvil Samuel)

KINGSTOWN – La Soufriere volcano shot out another explosive burst of gas and ash on Friday as a cruise ship arrived to evacuate some of the foreigners who had been stuck on a St. Vincent island coated in ash from a week of violent eruptions.

The explosions that began on April 9 forced some 20,000 to flee the northern end of the eastern Caribbean island for shelters and contaminated water supplies across the island.

Friday morning's blast “wasn’t a big explosion compared to the ones that we last weekend, but it was big enough to punch a hole through the clouds," said Richard Robertson, lead scientist at the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center, in an interview with local NBC radio. “Probably got up to 8,000 meters (26,000 feet)."

During a comparable eruption cycle in 1902, explosive eruptions continued to shake the island for months after an initial burst killed some 1,700 people, though the new eruptions so far have caused no reported deaths among a population that had received official warning a day earlier that danger was imminent.

Meanwhile, British, U.S. and Canadian nationals were being evacuated aboard Royal Caribbean Cruises' Celebrity Reflection from the harbor in the Kingstown, capital of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The ship was due to arrive Saturday in Dutch Sint Maarten.

Dozens of foreigners toting luggage descended from tour buses and cars at the port terminal in Kingstown and patiently waited in a line that began in the parking lot and reached deep into the terminal.

They included students from the Trinity School of Medicine along with stranded tourists, including families with young children in arms.

“As of right now, we are being evacuated for our safety and to keep the island as safe as possible," said LLeah Ransai, a Canadian student at Trinity. "Between the school, the government and the embassies of the US and Canada, we’re being evacuated now.”