(CMR) Heavy rains caused major mudslides and flooding in St Vincent on Thursday, compounding problems caused by the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano.
The heavy rains resulted in the secondary hazards of mudflow, which caused blockages in culverts and drains and resulted in flooding.
Seismologist Roderick Stewart, in an interview with NBC, said the equipment that was monitoring the volcano indicated it was quiet and there were no tremors, but lahars (mudflows) were occurring in all of the major drainage valleys and could cause damage as they passed from the volcano to the sea.
“The actual danger from the volcano itself has lowered at the moment, but these sorts of secondary hazards – which are major hazards – are taking over for a while,” he explained.
With the rainy season expected to start soon, it is expected that mudflows could frequently occur, resulting in frequent flooding.
A lahar is a violent type of mudflow or debris flow composed of a slurry of pyroclastic material, rocky debris, and water. The material flows down from a volcano, typically along a river valley, and is extremely destructive, flowing tens of meters per second and destroying any structures in its path.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves warned people in the communities in the hills and near the rivers on Thursday. People were also warned not to drive through flooding areas as even waters that appear shallow can be very powerful.