21 Jan 2019

Vanuatu's Ambrym volcano evacuees to stay in own island safe zones

8:12 pm on 21 January 2019

Hundreds of people on the Vanuatu island of Ambrym could be moved off the island if volcanic eruptions there continue.

The Ambrym volcano

The Ambrym volcano Photo: WikiCommons

Seven hundred people from the villages of Paamal, Ulei, Sameou and Asse are being relocated to safe zones on the island after earthquakes triggered by the past month's volcanic activity ruptured the ground and damaged homes.

Vanuatu's Geohazards Department said the island's two volcanoes Mount Marum and Mount Benbow were at alert level 3 indicating a minor eruption state.

Augustine Garae of the Vanuatu Red Cross said the villages were unsafe and people who live there had been evacuated to nearby communities.

He said if the situation deteriorates there are plans for them to move off the island.

"For now the government have taken the decision to move these people to the three relocation centres, the safe centres. And in terms of worst case scenario then there's a plan in place, like these people have to move to Malekula, one of the big islands in the province."

Mr Garae said last week the Council of Ministers promised to restore services to Ambae, further north, where volcanic activity over the past year has prompted the mass evacuation of thousands of people.

Ambae's Manaro Voui is at one level lower than Ambrym's volcanoes - level 2 on Vanuatu's five level volcanic alert level system.

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