Authorities in St. Vincent say traces of gold were found in ash from the La Soufriere volcano following preliminary tests on the ash sample collected.
“As a matter of fact, one of the preliminary results show that coming out of the recent explosion and that the material that is on the ground does have within it gold,” Deputy Prime Minister Montgomery Daniel told Loop New Caribbean in an interview.
The tests were carried out by a team of experts from the United Nations that is currently on the ground, Daniel, who is also the minister of transport and works, said.
“They also found other elements including, Zinc, Copper, Iron, Boron, a wide range of elements they would have found”, Daniel told News784, adding that the team will conduct further intense sampling when they leave St Vincent.
Between 16,000 and 20,000 people have had to find new homes following the eruption of La Soufriere last month. “The volcano caught us with our pants down, and it’s very devastating,” a retired police officer Paul Smart told The Associated Press at the time. “No water, lots of dust in our home. We thank God we are alive, but we need more help at this moment.”
The volcano had seen a low-level eruption since December. Last month, however, it experienced the first of several major explosions, the AP reported.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves confirmed that no casualty has occurred and warned his country to “try and keep that record”. Gonsalves also said that his country would need hundreds of millions of dollars to help it bounce back on its feet.
St. Vincent and Grenadines hold a total population of a little over 110,000 inhabitants. A country built on agriculture and tourism, the volcano’s massive eruptions destroyed farms. Water supplies have not been spared as many water bodies have been contaminated. Parts of the county have been without electricity since the first eruption.
Small nation under threat
The entire land surface area of St. Vincent and Grenadines is about 150 square miles, making it one of the most densely populated places on earth. More than 90% of the inhabitants live in St. Vincent, the north of which is La Soufrière. As such, about one in every ten people in St. Vincent has been forced to move from home, per the numbers reported by The Guardian.
Government shelters have taken in about 3,000 people but neighboring countries Grenada, St. Lucia and Antigua have all opened their borders to shelter some of the thousands who have been left homeless.
La Soufrière has erupted five times since 1718 but it has been dormant since 1979, ten years after the country gained independence from Great Britain. When it erupted in 1902, La Soufrière killed 1,600 inhabitants of the island.