VANUATU PLANS ANOTHER EVACUATION AS MORE ASH FALL COMES FROM AMBAE VOLCANO

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DENARAU ISLAND, Vanuatu has planned another evacuation of 11,000 residents from the Ambae Island following another heavy ash spill in recent days making it uninhabitable, according to local media, reported Xinhua news agency.

According to Vanuatu Daily Post on Friday, Vanuatu's Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency on Thursday and the mass evacuation comes as houses and trees were collapsing due to the weight of the ash while many locals suffered health problems.

There has been increased activity from the Manaro Voui crater on Mt Lombenben for the past month, although the mountain remained active since last September's major eruption.

Families whose homes, water supplies and crops were damaged by the ash falls and acid rain will be evacuated to other islands.

Relevant authorities have been tasked to negotiate for permanent resettlement on neighbouring islands such as Maewo and Pentecost.

Jesse Benjamin, director general of Vanuatu's Ministry of Climate Change and Natural Disaster, said the ongoing ash fall has taken its toll on homes and livestock and it was no longer safe for people to live on the island.

He said the second evacuation will be done in a more orderly manner.

"Last year's evacuation was conducted in haste, amidst fears of a major eruption. There are some dissatisfaction about the way we moved people at the time.

"This time we will be evacuating people from the severely affected communities first, before the less affected."

The entire population of Ambae have just returned home after last year's mandatory evacuation order. Many people will have to move again because of the excessive ash fall.

Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office will act on behalf of the government and coordinate response efforts closely with other sectors such as agriculture, water, education and non-government organisations.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK