The Caribbean island of St. Vincent experienced two eruptions from their La Soufriere volcano on Friday which caused power outages and large ash clouds to spread throughout the country. While there are evacuation efforts are taking place via rescue cruise ships, only those who have the COVID-19 vaccine are permitted to leave.
Both the Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines sent two ships to assist in the evacuation process.
St. Vincent’s Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves said with tears in his eyes, “The chief medical officer would be identifying the persons already vaccinated so that we can get them on the ship.”
He continued to explain the ships “don’t have enough personnel” to keep evacuees on the ships, but enough to transport them to neighboring island nations as this was a voluntary effort.
Barbados, Grenada, Antigua, and St. Lucia all agreed to accept refugees only if they were vaccinated, those who aren’t must wait in shelters throughout St. Vincent which are currently overcapacity.
St. Vincent is home to approximately 110,000 people, BBC News reported the eruption caused 16,000 people to evacuate.
It has been 40 years since the last time the volcano was active was in 1979, the eruption caused $100 million worth of damage.
The time before that, in 1902, the eruption killed over 1,000 people.