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UWI expertise mobilised for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles has reached out to Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr The Honourable Ralph Gonsalves assuring that the University stands ready to mobilise any additional support needed in the wake of the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano.

The scientific experts of The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC) have been deployed on the island since December 2020 when activity on the Volcano was first detected. Over the past few months, scientific teams have been in rotation, providing ongoing monitoring and updates to Prime Minister Gonsalves and working closely with the country’s National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), and offering the critical science data to help the Government and its agencies in shaping public policy and response plans.

On April 8, the team recorded tremors and elevated periods of steam and gas venting and on April 9, the volcano moved to an explosive phase with magma extrusion, tremor and volcano-tectonic (VT) seismic activity. The UWI-SRC scientists have been critical to the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ activation of alert levels and evacuation and other decision-making in the emergency management process as the situation evolves.

Prime Minister Gonsalves has thanked The UWI for this extraordinary national support and asked the question: “What would have happened to us had it not been for The UWI’s Seismic Team?”

The UWI’s Five Islands Campus, having delivered technical training programmes in Disaster Management for the OECS, along with The UWI Open Campus, will be spearheading the immediate relief efforts from the University. Already, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Open Campus, Dr Luz Longsworth has mobilised a team from the Campus Site, located on the ground in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, to engage with the University by the hour and a UWI Saint Vincent and the Grenadines support group has been established under the leadership of Head of The UWI Open Campus on the island, Mrs Deborah Dalrymple, with coordination support from Acting Deputy Principal of The UWI Open Campus, Dr Francis Severin. The support group will soon provide banking information to the regional public and university system on sending financial relief for the nation.

As he continues to maintain contact with Prime Minister Gonsalves, Vice-Chancellor Beckles has indicated that all UWI Campuses are mobilised to provide technical capacity and general support as required and he has committed to visiting the island as soon as logistically possible.

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