10 Feb 2016

Vanuatu villages battle five week long fire

2:53 pm on 10 February 2016

Coconut plantations in the west of Vanuatu's Ambryn island have been destroyed by a fire which has been burning since early January.

The fire has covered an area of about six hectares and has affected seven villages since it began January 5.

Steven Tom from the Red Cross said the local copra industry, which is the main money-earner in the area, will face some difficult times ahead.

Mr Tom said the inland villages are struggling to cope with the fire, particularly with the water shortages affecting the region of late.

"It's a long way. They have to pay for transport to go and collect water from the coastal areas. The villagers, where the bush-fires are around them, are trying to stop the fire but it is out of their limits because they don't have the resources. It is a big problem."

Steven Tom said the Red Cross and the National Disaster Management Office are awaiting a report providing information on damages and what sort of assistance can be provided this week.