Eruptive activity from the La Soufrière volcano, located north of the island of Saint Vincent in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, continues to disrupt air operations in the eastern Caribbean.
The main affected airports are Argyle International Airport in Kingstown, San Vicente, with at least 30 flights canceled since Friday after ash completely covered its facilities, and Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown, located 190 kilometers to the east in Barbados, as a consequence of the wind direction in the upper levels of the atmosphere.
Around 70 flights were canceled at Grantley Adams airport, the main hub in the eastern Caribbean and even more damages are expected considering that it will remain closed at least until 6 a.m. local time on Monday, April 12.
Caribbean Airlines announced the cancellation of 16 flights to Barbados from Antigua, Saint Vincent, Grenada, Ogle, Kingston, New York and Dominica between Saturday and Sunday.
LIAT, another of the main airlines in the region, announced the cancellation until further notice of its flights between Dominica and Barbados, Barbados and Saint Vincent, Saint Vincent and Saint Lucia, and Saint Lucia and Antigua.
Intercaribbean Airways for its part yesterday canceled its flights to Barbados from Dominica and Kingstown, and those this Sunday from Point Salines, Castries and Kingstown. The airline also implemented on its website the option for those passengers who buy tickets to donate money to NGOs that assist people in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Among airlines outside the region, American Airlines has canceled its flights to Bridgetown and also to Saint Lucia as this airport, despite not being closed, experienced the presence of volcanic ash. JetBlue and British Airways also canceled their flights to the capital of Barbados yesterday and today.
On Friday morning an explosive eruption took place that caused the emission of volcanic ash up to more than 29,000 feet high. The process continued during the day, with a second eruption in the afternoon that created an ash plume more than 51,000 feet high, and a third that aggravated the situation. Although there were no serious injuries or deaths, at least 15,000 people had to be evacuated from the red zone.
Moment of eruption, as seen from Argyle International Airport.
In statements made to local media, Professor Richard Robertson, who leads the team of scientists monitoring the La Soufriere volcano, said that this eruption will be as or even larger than the last one recorded, which took place in 1979.