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A Volcano Erupts

DUST CLOUD La Soufrière erupts on April 9. It had been dormant for 42 years. ST. VINCENT SEISMIC CENTER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

On April 9, a volcano called La Soufrière erupted on Saint Vincent. Thousands of people on the island in the Caribbean Sea were forced to evacuate their homes. The massive explosion sent hot ash 32,000 feet into the sky. For days, the volcano continued to erupt, spewing ash and rock fragments.

"It's destroying everything in its path," Erouscilla Joseph says. She's director of the Seismic Research Centre at the University of the West Indies. "More explosions could occur," she says, adding that it's impossible to know whether they'd be bigger or smaller than what the island has seen so far.

Government-run shelters and empty cruise ships have taken in some evacuees. Others have fled to nearby islands to get out of harm's way.

More than 30 islands make up the country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Ralph Gonsalves is its prime minister. He says people should stay calm and continue to protect themselves against the coronavirus.

La Soufrière began showing signs of activity in December. Until then, it had been inactive for decades. It last erupted in 1979. Elford Lewis, a farmer who evacuated his home on April 11, remembers the last big eruption. "This one is more serious," he says.

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