4 Jun 2010

Vanuatu ash accumulation adds to mud slide risk

1:26 pm on 4 June 2010

A technical expert in Vanuatu is warning of the potential for mud slides as ash from the nation's active volcanoes accumulates.

A technical advisor for the government's Geo Hazard Unit, Sylvain Todman, says while Mt Yasur is the most active, two other volcanoes, Ambae and Gaua, are also worrying for locals.

"Regarding Gaua volcano in the north part of Vanuatu still we have a lot of accumulation of ashes which could lead to mud flows unfortunately because when you have a lot of very big layer of ashes it could mix it up with water and then lead to mud flows. Then it could be a second hazard for the local population."

Sylvain Todman says Gaua has been very active since September and is now rated at level two on a four-step scale.

In March, Vanuatu authorities drew up plans with aid agencies and neighbouring governments, including New Zealand and Australia, to prepare for mass evacuations in case of an emergency.