Volcano erupts in Caribbean as thousands are evacuated from St. Vincent

ST. VINCENTS — Cruise ships that have not held passengers for more than a year because of the coronavirus pandemic are being tasked to help evacuate thousands from the island of St. Vincent as the volcano La Soufriere threatens to erupt.

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About 16,000 people live in what is considered the red zone and were required to evacuate, The Associated Press reported.

People packed shelters in the northern part of the Caribbean island but they’re being told not to panic.

There are some roadblocks to using the empty cruise ships because those evacuated would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and not everyone has a passport, so ID cards would be needed. Vaccination is also suggested for those who decide to go to a shelter, the AP reported.

Two Royal Caribbean and two Carnival Cruise Line ships are scheduled to arrive in the region Friday to evacuate people from St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Antigua.

Volcano experts have been in St. Vincent since late December after an eruption of La Soufriere. They’ve been analyzing a new volcanic dome, changes to its crater lake and gas emissions, the AP reported.

There are 17 active volcanos in the Eastern Caribbean.