26 Oct 2017

Vanuatu govt lifts Ambae emergency - evacuees returned

4:08 pm on 26 October 2017

The Vanuatu government has lifted its state of emergency for the volcanic island of Ambae and its evacuees have returned.

People being evacuated from Ambae

People being evacuated from Ambae Photo: Nixon Garae Tambeana

Ambae's 11,000 people had to be rapidly moved to nearby islands after the Manaro volcano began erupting last month.

Internal Affairs Minister Alfred Maoh said it could be a month before life returns to normal and he is waiting for full reports on the conditions on Ambae.

Mr Maoh said the islanders may be able to salvage some food from their gardens but there were emergency supplies if needed.

"We have a lot of supplies in stock. The different clusters will do the final assessment as to whether and how much and when they need the food and other necessities to restore their normal living as they were when they left the island.

"Going back is a different environment - accept the fact that [you] live with a volcano and that you will be receiving these ashes and whatever the consequences that we have to adapt."

Vanuatu struggling with Ambae mass evacuation

Manaro volcano Photo: RNZ / YouTube

Mr Maoh said the National Disaster Management Office could provide containers to collect rainwater as clean water would still be an issue.

He said the islanders' animals, which were released as the evacuation got underway, were expected to have remained near the properties.

But he expected they would have helped themselves to the plants in the food gardens.

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