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The lightning in the ash column above the La Sourfriere the night of April 13.

La Soufriere has produced pyroclastic flows, rock falls, ash fall, rivers of mud, earthquakes and lightning over the past week.

But there is at least one deadly threat that the people of St Vincent are relatively safe from – waves of molten lava pouring from the crater and vaporizing everything in its path.

So why is La Soufriere not producing magma?

We asked The UWI’s Seismic Research Unit.

A scientist said: “The threat of lava flows has not been mentioned because the types of eruptions we see in the islands of the Lesser Antilles are very different because of the type of magma that we have. Our lava is not the kind of running lava that you see in Iceland and Hawaii. Ours is silica rich and very viscous so it does not flow very far away from the vent. It tends to form domes, and not flows.”

Explosive eruptions, as at La Soufriere, produces a mix of volcanic ash and fragments called tephra, and not lava flows.

So how long will this go on?

“Based on historical activity from this volcano, eruptions can last months, even up to a year”, says the Seismic Research Unit.

Is this ongoing activity as large as, or comparable to 1812, 1902, 1979?

“Instrumental recording of seismic activity on St Vincent only took place within the last 60 years by the Seismic Research Centre. Nothing with respect to 1812, 1902 would have been (on) record. It would be available through the geological study of the island and this was done by several researches including Professor Richard Robertson, who actually lived through the 1979 eruption”, says the Seismic Research Unit.

Incidentally, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was also in St Vincent and working as a scientist monitoring the 1979 eruption.

Rowley is a volcanologist with a Doctorate in Geology, specialising in geochemistry.

There has been no reported deaths or injuries from La Soufriere as of Friday morning, a week into the eruptions.  There have been eight explosive eruptions as of Friday morning.

Professor Richard Robertson, the lead scientist in the team monitoring the La Soufriere and advising the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, says that the explosive eruptions are likely to continue, with damage being done to the land and properties closest the crater.

"...the amount of energy this volcano had at the beginning suggests that it has a lot more down there to come out”, he said.

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The death toll from the virus now stands at 196.

The latest deaths included one elderly male and one middle-age male, both with co-morbidities; as well as two middle-age males and one middle-age female, without co-morbidities.

Pandemic tears.

Both Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday confessed to being reduced to tears in the face of their “disappointment” over “the response of the national community to pandemic restrictions” and the tragic consequences that flow from it.

The Government deepened and tightened its containment measures from midnight last night, announcing that with the exception of essential services the country goes into extended lockdown until May 23.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has called on the Government to engage all stakeholders to form a united front to fight Covid-19.

“This is a time for humility and not a time for arrogance. The UNC and many stakeholders have been trying to assist since the beginning of this crisis, but the Government has pursued its own way,” Persad-Bissessar stated in a news release yesterday.

A gift of 100,000 vaccines from China will make its way to Trinidad and Tobago from next week, says Health Minister Terrence Deyal­singh.

He added that some 33,600 AstraZeneca vaccines will also be arriving at Piarco on Monday from the COVAX facility.

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NATIONAL flags across the country will be flying at half-mast today as former minister of energy and energy industries Franklin Khan is laid to rest.

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