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Evacuation continues on Vanuatu's Ambae Island

01 May 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Ruci Farrell - ruci.farrell@pmn.co.nz

More aid supplies are on their way to Vanuatu, which is currently in a state of emergency, as thousands of residents flee volcanic activity on the island of Ambae. 

Photo/ Reuters.

The New Zealand Navy's HMNZS Canterbury is shipping a further 24 tonnes of emergency supplies to help thousands of ni-Vanuatu forced to relocate by the Manaro Voui volcano. 

The supplies are in addition to 23 tonnes of tarpaulins, water, hygiene and food packages flown to Santos over the weekend as part of a $500,000 assistance package. 

Major General Tim Gall says New Zealand's GNS scientists have been monitoring Manaro Voui since September and assisting the Vanuatu Government to ensure people have the essentials.

"The main problem is actually the ash, the contamination of the water supplies," he says. "I saw something the other day that suggested that 50 per cent of the traditional houses have actually collapsed due to the weight of ash on their roof. That's stopped all flights in and out of the island."

"The Government of Vanuatu has come to the conclusion that the best solution here is to permanently relocate the population."

Mass evacuation of Ambae residents to the neighbouring island of Maioro will continue this week as volcanic activity from Lake Manaro continues to spew ash and toxic gases.

Efforts by the New Zealand Defence Force officials to deliver emergency supplies to Ambae have been hampered by volcanic debris and ash clogging their helicopter engines. .

National Disaster Management official Manson Tari says they have more than 10,000 registered Ambae residents ready to move, while the Vanuatu Government negotiates the purchase of land in Maioro and Pentecost.

"At the moment on Ambae people are ready to move to another island," he says. "But then the process of permanent relocation... Maioro is the first island where chiefs and the leaders sold us some plots of land to move from Ambae to reside temporarily."

"So far we have some following the voluntary people moving on their own, hopefully we will move families some time at the end of this week."

The NZDF sending supplies to Vanuatu. Photo/ Supplied.

Tags: Vanuatu,