Luxury ships from the Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise lines sail to the rescue and evacuate islanders in the path of a volcano eruption

St Vincent volcano eruption
La Soufrière last erupted in 1979. Reuters
  • Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise sent ships to the Caribbean island Saint Vincent.

  • The ships helped to evacuate northern areas of the island after La Soufrière threatened to erupt.

  • Saint Vincent's National Emergency Management Organisation later tweeted that the volcano did erupt.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Ships from both Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International sailed to the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent to help evacuate people from the volcano's imminent eruption named La Soufrière.

The Caribbean island went into red alert on Thursday, with Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves ordering an evacuation of all northern districts of the island, which has a population of approximately 100,000.

The northern areas are home to around 16,000 people. All have been ordered to leave immediately as they were in the direct path of lava flow and literal fire from the volcano.

Saint Vincent evacuation
Northern areas of Saint Vincent were evacuated. Reuters

However, commercial cruise ships came to the rescue. Carnival Cruise Line sent two ships - Carnival Legend and Carnival Paradise - to the island on Friday. Royal Caribbean International also sent two ships - Serenade of the Seas and Celebrity Reflection. They arrived on Friday evening, with a third expected to arrive in the coming days.

Each ship is expected to take on board up to 1500 people. They will be transported to neighboring islands who have agreed to house them, according to Travel Weekly.

Cruise ship to St Vincent
Carnival Cruise and Royal Caribbean both sent cruise ships to Saint Vincent to help with the evacuation. Reuters

On Thursday, as reported by the Saint Vincent online newspaper News 784, Geologist Richard Robertson said that La Soufrière could erupt at any given time in a matter of days or even hours as the volcano has been increasingly active since November.

Monitoring stations also reported long earthquakes, which suggested that magma was attempting to reach the surface, meaning the volcano was ready to transition to an explosive stage.

On Friday, Saint Vincent's National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) tweeted that the volcano had indeed "moved into an explosive stage" and erupted.

St Vincent volcano eruption 2
Citizens watching ash plumes from La Soufrière. Reuters

"Ash fall recorded as far as Argyle International Airport," NEMO tweeted, writing that ash plumes were recorded up to 20,000 feet.

Six hours after this, NEMO tweeted that a "second explosive eruption" had occurred, although it was smaller than the first.

"Vincentians are waking up to extremely heavy ashfall and strong sulfur smells which have now advanced to the capital," NEMO tweeted. There have been no reported casualties as of yet.

La Soufrière last erupted in April 1979. There were no casualties, and the local population was successfully evacuated.

The volcano's deadliest eruption was in 1902, when 1600 people (predominantly indigenous Caribs) were killed. Shortly after that eruption, Martinique's Mount Pelee also erupted and destroyed the town of Saint-Pierre. More than 30,000 people died as a result.

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