23 Oct 2017

Solomons eruption prompts warning to stay indoors

1:40 pm on 23 October 2017

The authorities in Solomon Islands have urged people on islands near an erupting volcano to stay indoors and protect their water supplies.

A satellite image of Tinakula, Solomon Islands, taken in 2012.

A satellite image of Tinakula, Solomon Islands, taken in 2012. Photo: NASA Earth Observatory

The Tinakula volcano in the Santa Cruz islands began erupting on Saturday.

The national broadcaster SIBC reported people in the country's easternmost Temotu province were being told to avoid ashfall from the volcano by closing their doors and windows

The director of the National Disaster Management Office Loti Yates said they should breathe into a mask or handkerchief and wear protective clothing and glasses while they're outside.

Mr Yates said the effects of the ash on nearby communities and flights into the province were the main concerns.

An aviation warning was issued on Saturday for the Santa Cruz Islands.

He said there were no scientific instruments in place to measure the volcano's activity.

There were reports people in the Reef islands to the east of Tinakula were very worried about their drinking water.

To protect water supplies, Mr Yates recommended covering water tank inlets and disconnecting gutters and downpipes.

Other precautions included washing vegetables from the garden thoroughly to remove ash, not using air conditioners, and sweeping ash off roofs to prevent them from collapsing.

Mr Yates said his office planned to collaborate with police and the Ministry of Health in the provincial capital, Lata to raise awareness about how communities should respond to the situation.

"Reef Islands people are very worried about drinking water as collection roofs are covered in dust," said Chris Bone of the NGO OceansWatch who has been in touch with people in the area.

"I advised everyone to take off pipes to tanks until after heavy rain has washed roofs," he said.