Volcano erupts on Caribbean island of St. Vincent, sending ash 20,000 feet into the air

Ash rises as an explosive eruption begins at La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent on Friday.

La Soufrière volcano is located on the largest island of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines chain, the country’s National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) said.

“Explosive eruption at La Soufrière,” NEMO tweeted. “Ash plumes up to 20,000 feet headed East,” it added.

“Please leave the red zone immediately. La Soufrière has erupted. Ash fall recorded as far as Argyle International Airport,” it said.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on Thursday declared a disaster alert prompted by a change in the eruptive activity at the La Soufrière volcano, NEMO said.

The island was placed on red alert, meaning an eruption was “imminent now,” NEMO said.

Evacuation orders were put into place in about a dozen districts of St. Vincent, affecting roughly 6,000 to 7,000 people, a spokesperson for the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre, or UWI-SRC, told CNN.

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