KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent and the Grenadines — A volcano in the southern Caribbean that had been dormant for decades erupted in a billowing blast of gray smoke Friday, spewing clouds of ash for miles and forcing thousands to evacuate.

The volcano, known as La Soufrière, on the northern tip of the main island of St. Vincent, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, had started showing signs of renewed activity in late December.

It moved into an “explosive state” on Friday morning, the National Emergency Management Organization said in a Twitter posting.

, the agency said.

Video clips shot in Chateaubelair, a town on the foothills of the volcano, showed the sky darkened by ash as evacuees wearing face masks trudged through the streets lugging their belongings. Other

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