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An explosive volcanic eruption has blanketed the Caribbean island of St Vincent in ash and smoke and forced thousands of people out of their homes. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves urged more than 16,000 residents in "red zones" to evacuate on Thursday. St Vincent's National Emergency Management Organisation said that the volcano has spewed dark ash plumes 6 km into the air. Ashfall has been recorded as far from the volcano as Argyle International Airport some 20 km away.

The first sign that an eruption was imminent came on Thursday evening when a lava dome became visible on La Soufrière. La Soufrière, which has been dormant for decades, first started showing volcanic activity in December, but that increased this week.
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