Caribbean volcano erupts sparking mass evacuation

A volcano has erupted on the Caribbean island of St.Vincent forcing thousands to evacuate.

After decades of inactivity, La Soufriere started erupting on Friday morning sending dark plumes of ash and smoke into the sky.

The eruption column reached six miles high, blocking the sun's morning rays and plunging the area into near total darkness.

One eyewitness described the scene:

"It was bright, but then the light began to deteriorate. And it wasn't at a slow pace, it was rapidly deteriorating."

The volcano first started showing signs of increased activity in December.

That picked up this week prompting Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to order an evacuation of the surrounding areas on Thursday.

Thousands of people then left for safer parts of the island, others were taken to a cruise ship.

Heavy ash fall has since hampered evacuation efforts due to a lack of visibility.

Gonsalves said that depending on the extent of the damage, it could be months before the evacuees can return home.

The neighbouring islands of Dominica, Grenada and Antigua have agreed to take people in.

La Soufrière last erupted in 1979, and a previous eruption in 1902 killed more than 1,000 people.