26 Jul 2018

'There won't be a mass evacuation'

3:02 pm on 26 July 2018

Parts of Vanuatu's volcanic Ambae island are no longer safe but people will not be forced to evacuate, the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) says.

People being evacuated from Ambae.

People being evacuated from Ambae in 2017. Photo: Nixon Garae Tambeana

Ash from the Manaro volcano blocked out the sun yesterday, leading 1000 locals to apply to be moved off the island.

NDMO research and planning officer Zoe Ayong said arrangements were being made to ship people to the nearby island of Maewo.

"The condition is not safe in a few areas of Ambae, especially in the Southern part of Ambae where thick ash fall is recorded and even clarity or visibility is very poor," Ms Ayong said.

"There won't be a mass evacuation. That's the word we want to avoid. There won't be a mass evacuation. People will move but we will ask their concern first, if they will move, yes or no. If they decide to stay back on Ambae, they are free to do so."

Nevertheless, the NDMO wanted the State of Emergency reinstated on Ambae after it lapsed earlier this month, Ms Ayong said.

"The State of Emergency will definitely enable NDMO to access some services much quicker than normal," she said.

"We can definitely have access to the Emergency Fund. We can also request assistance from our development partners."

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