Volcano Eruption in Vanuatu on September 23 2017 12:18 PM (UTC).
The alert level for Vanuatu's Ambae has been downgraded, with signs the island's volcano is settling. The order was made to evacuate last week when the alert was raised to level 4 - the second-highest - and the volcano was raining ash across much of the island. The manager of the Geohazards Department, Esline Garaebiti, said while the volcano was still erupting, it appeared to be stabilising. She said the alert level has been dropped to level three - what is deemed a "minor eruption." "It is erupting with less ash at the moment but there are still some explosions," she said. "There'll be de-gassing that will continue for some time, but the level of risk and risk areas is reduced." Ms Garaebiti said the decision on whether the downgrade means the more than 10,000 people evacuated from Ambae can return will be made by the government. That may take weeks, as ashfall has killed crops and contaminated water supplies on Ambae.
Vanuatu has launched a Dunkirk-style evacuation on the northern island of Ambae as a flotilla of boats rescues islanders from an erupting volcano. The eruption has polluted many of the island's water sources leaving thousands of people in need of safe drinking water, Red Cross delegate Joe Cropp told Reuters by phone on Sunday. "Water is crucial," he said. "It's important to get on top of it right away." The Manaro Voui volcano, the nation's largest, was seen hurling steam and rocks into the air by New Zealand vulcanologist Brad Scott who flew over the volcano on Saturday. "Maybe about every 8 to 10 seconds there was an explosion, throwing lava bombs up maybe 50 to 100 meters above the crater and there's also two small lava flows that are flowing across the island into the lake as well," he said in an interview with Radio NZ published on Sunday. Crowds of islanders from at least three evacuation points on the island have begun boarding a flotilla of ships including ferries, canoes and commercial vessels for the safety of surrounding islands Maewo, Pentecost and Santo. The Vanuatu Government wants all 11,000 islanders evacuated by Oct. 6. Australia sent amphibious Bay Class landing ship HMAS Choules on Saturday to help move the population, and it is expected to arrive by the middle of the week. Some islanders are flying out while others have already moved to stay with friends or relatives in the capital, Port Vila. More than 6000 people have gone to emergency shelters on the South Pacific island in preparation for the total evacuation. Manaro Voui stirred to life in September, threatening island residents with burning ash, toxic gas and acid rain. The volcano is crowned by crater lakes. One of them, Lake Voui, is directly on top of the eruption making it dangerously explosive and posing the deadly threat of a lahar: a boiling mud flow down the side of the mountain, Macquarie University vulcanologist Christopher Firth told Reuters by telephone on Saturday.
A state of emergency has been declared on a Vanuatu island in the Pacific Ocean as the threat of a major volcanic eruption forced at least 7,000 people to flee their homes. According to the Associated Press, a state of emergency was declared Monday after a recent flurry of activity at the Manaro volcano on Ambae island raised fears that a major eruption was imminent. The volcano on the island that is home to 10,000 and located between Australia and Hawaii has been active since 2005, but an increase in activity, including rocks and gas spewing from the volcano, prompted authorities to raise the activity to Level 4 for the first time over the weekend, indicating a "moderate eruption" risk, the second highest level in Vanuatu's volcanic alert system. "There's ash, fire, stones and lava being thrown out from the mouth of the volcano," Shadrack Welegtabit, the director of Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office, said Tuesday of the recent activity. "There's a lot of activity going on." Welegtabit noted that it's impossible to say whether there will be a major eruption, but it was better to be cautious. "With the seismic machine, we can measure what's happening but we can't really predict what the volcano will do next," he said. Australia's ABC News reports that the government of Vanuatu approved $2 million in funding to provide food, shelter and water for evacuees.
More than 6,000 people have been moved to emergency shelters on Vanuatu's northern island Ambae in the South Pacific as a volcano threatens to erupt, officials said on Tuesday. The volcano, known as Monaro, stirred earlier this month but intensified over the weekend to begin emitting ash and volcanic gas, triggering fears of an imminent eruption, Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office said. Authorities have established 15 emergency sites, but the large-scale evacuation was straining supplies, said Shadrack Welegtabit, director of the National Disaster Management Office. "We are in the dry season and with the ash contaminating some supplies our biggest concern right now is getting water to those who have been evacuated," Welegtabit told Reuters. The last time the Ambae volcano erupted was in 2005. Vanuatu is one of the world's poorest nations, where locals are almost entirely reliant on food grown in their garden to survive, aid workers said. "People on Ambae rely on a subsistence lifestyle and so the big fear is not just the issue of displacement but the condition of crops and vegetation that people will go home to," said Georgia Tacey, Vanuatu country director at ?Save the Children Australia. Vanuatu, a sprawling cluster of more than 80 islands and 260,000 people, is on the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire and its Tana island active volcano is a major tourist attraction.