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.

  • 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.

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.

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.

“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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Global air routes are cutoff as the Netherlands imposes one of the strictest travel requirements worldwide to combat new COVID-19 variants

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner
A KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

  • The Netherlands just announced new travel restrictions in response to new COVID-19 variants. 
  • Travelers from non-European countries must take a rapid test within four hours of their flight.
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, in response, canceled all of its long-haul flights. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Netherlands government announced a new COVID-19-related lockdown on Wednesday that severely limits international travel, prompting flag carrier KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to suspend all of its long-haul flights, according to Reuters

New requirements mandated by the government require passengers to obtain a negative COVID-19 rapid test result no later than four hours prior to departure to the Netherlands. In addition, passengers must also have a negative result from a PCR test conducted within 72 hours from their flight’s departure to be let into the country.

Read moreAirline CEOs say it doesn’t matter how well they protect passengers from COVID-19 – travel demand won’t bounce back until the pandemic ends

The restrictions are some of the most stringent mandated by any national government this late in the pandemic and the country expects travel to markedly decrease as a result. In January, KLM had plans to serve over 30 countries outside of Europe with around 270 weekly long-haul departures, according to Reuters and Cirium data.

Travelers still must quarantine even with the two negative tests for at least five days before they can test-out with a negative PCR test. If a negative test result isn’t received after five days, the quarantine can end after 10 days. 

The Netherlands also announced a ban for passenger flights from the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. KLM currently serves eight of those countries. 

A ban on passenger flights from the UK, which was initially issued in December, has also been extended. The new restrictions on travel from those countries are expected to last for at least one month or until legislation is passed that outlines quarantine requirements for those travelers. 

“The government is gravely concerned about the UK variant of coronavirus, which is even more infectious than the virus we are familiar with in the Netherlands,” the government said in a statement

The Caribbean Netherlands is also impacted by the new order, according to the statement, meaning travel may be impacted to Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, as well as the constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands including Aruba, Sint Maarten, and Curaçao. 

Bonaire recently opened its air borders to North America with plans for non-stop flights to the US in February.  

International travel is being advised against for residents of the Netherlands until at least March 31, 2021. “Every journey a person makes increases the chance of causing more infections or of bringing new variants of coronavirus into the Netherlands.”

On the home front, citizens in the Netherlands are advised not to have more than one daily visitor over the age of 13 and make no more than one daily visit to another household. A curfew is also being planned to keep residents inside between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.

The Netherlands is also restricting which types of travelers will be granted exemptions to enter the country during the pandemic. As a result, groups including business travelers and students will be barred from entry.

The government also made a point of noting that “people in long-distance romantic relationships wishing to travel to the Netherlands for a short period will no longer be granted entry.”

“We don’t want to look back a few weeks from now and realise that we did not do enough,” the statement said. 

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