1 Jun 2010

Mt Yasur eruptions cause trauma and sickness among Tanna islanders

3:11 pm on 1 June 2010

Volcanic ash spewing from Vanuatu's Mt Yasur volcano is causing trauma and sickness among villagers living nearby.

Government officials are on the island of Tanna assessing the situation but have no plans to evacuate residents just yet.

Sally Round reports.

"Officials from Vanuatu's Health, Agriculture and Geology and Mines ministries are on Tanna this week checking the extent of problems caused by large plumes of ash and volcanic material erupting from Mt Yasur. Donald Manses from Vanuatu's Natural Disaster Management Office says they've reported children in particular are suffering ill-effects. 'They have come across some experiences where young children have gone through like headache, stomach ache. They have found out also that the water is contaminated.' Mr Manses says some children have been traumatised because of difficulties breathing in the ash-laden air. About ten villages lie within the volcano's current hazard area. Mr Manses says those in the north west are most affected. He says some families have moved but the government is waiting to complete its assessment before making any evacuation plans. Tourists are now banned from visiting the volcano which has seen increased activity since January. Vanuatu scientists say all Vanuatu's volcanoes have been very active since last January. Eruptions from a volcano on the island of Gaua in November forced 300 people to relocate."