5 Oct 2017

Conditions for evacuees on Pentecost and Maewo unclear

6:54 pm on 5 October 2017

The conditions in which thousands of men, women and children are being kept on the Vanuatu Islands of Pentecost and Maewo are still unclear almost a week since they were evacuated from their homes on Ambae.

People being evacuated from Ambae

People being evacuated from Ambae Photo: Nixon Garae Tambeana

A state of emergency remains in place for Ambae because of the volcanic threat.

More than 3000 of those who were evacuated from Ambae have been sent to the islands of Pentecost and Maewo which are more rural than the larger Espiritu Santo where the other 8000 have been sent.

Santo with its international Port and large runway has been made the operational hub for the relief effort.

But its focus has been taken up by the massive influx of people which has almost doubled the population of the provincial capital Luganville.

The Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office's Noel Stevens says the situation on the two outer islands is still unclear.

"There is a plan to deploy some people from SANMA Province to go to Maewo and Pentecost just to assess their situation there and report back."

Meanwhile, government officers returning from Ambae say the place is eerily empty without people a ghost island.

Some of the more superstitious said in the night they could hear children crying and footsteps without people.

They said pets and livestock were roaming the island freely and the volcano let off a massive boom yesterday that could be heard all over the island.

Back on Santo disaster authorities are already looking at medium to long term plans for evacuees.

The two main options are 1) If the volcanic activity decreases to assess when it will be safe to send people home and 2) If it remains the same or increases to look at allocating land for the long-term resettlement of the Ambae people.

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