KINGSTON, Jamaica (Reuters) – Saint Vincent struggled to bounce back from major flooding after heavy rains following a series of volcanic eruptions this month inundated large swaths of the Caribbean island, as a senior official confirmed landslides in an interview on Friday.
The double whammy natural disaster began when La Soufriere volcano, near the northern tip of the island, belched large clouds of smoke beginning on April 9, blanketing surrounding buildings and cars with a thick layer of ash and causing thousands of residents to relocate.
Heavy rains on Thursday provoked major flooding and landslides just as hurricane season approaches, said Saboto Caesar, agriculture minister for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
No deaths have been reported, but the capital of Kingstown has seen significant flooding, Caesar told Reuters.
“The flooding is going to augment the damage already caused,” he said, confirming multiple landslides on Thursday and noting that in the chaos loose dogs are killing livestock.
Over 20,000 residents have been forced to flee their homes, according to the prime minister, while locals described collapsed roofs as well as damage to at least one major bridge.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, a chain of 32 smaller islands located in the southern Caribbean, is home to more than 110,000 residents and known for its picturesque harbors and white sand beaches.