Preston families desperate to get aid to relatives caught up in Caribbean volcano disaster
Anxious relatives in Preston are desperate to get aid to family members in the Caribbean after more than a week of powerful volcanic eruptions and earth tremors.
Members of the West Indian community in the city have joined in a national appeal to help 20,000 people affected by the flare-up of the La Soufriere volcano on the island of St Vincent.
Many families have been forced from their homes by a layer of ash which has blanketed large parts of the island since the first eruption 10 days ago.
While there are no reports of any deaths, relatives in the UK are worried how their family members are coping with severe food and water shortages and power cuts.
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Preston-born Sekeena Muncey, whose family originate from St Vincent and the Grenadines, said today: "There was another large eruption last night and we are really worried for the safety of our relatives who still live there.
"There is a large scale aid effort underway and an appeal has been launched in Britain. We would love people in Lancashire to help with donations of food and water.
"I am being kept informed by some of our family members in High Wycombe who have managed to make contact with relatives in St Vincent.
"But it is still very worrying because the eruptions are still happening and the place clearly isn't safe yet."
Sekeena is a founder of the Preston Windrush Generation and Descendants group - the first members of her family came over to Britain from St Vincent and the Grenadines in 1958.
Co-founder Glenda Andrew said: "There are some other families too in Preston and they are all very concerned about how their relatives are out there.
"The volcano is unstable and people who have been evacuated are really desperate for food, water and clothing - they only left their homes with what they could carry.
"People here could help enormously by donating tinned and dried food and clothes.
"We are just sorting out collection points where they can take donations to in Preston before the end of this week so they can be flown out."
La Soufriere started to show signs of activity in December. The activity increased and the order to evacuate came on April 9 when the explosive first eruption happened, causing electricity blackouts.
There have been several eruptions and earthquakes since, some of which have been affecting neighbouring islands like Barbados, Grenada and St Lucia.
Worldwide appeals have been launched by the United Nations and the Red Cross and Red Crescent.