Evacuation underway in Vanuatu amid volcanic eruption fear

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SUVA, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- The evacuation of residents from Vanuatu's volcanic Ambae island has been underway as eruption risks continues.

According to Vanuatu's Daily Post news website on Friday, the impact of Ambae's devastating volcanic ash fall has wiped out all pandanus leaves on the island, threatening the supply of the island's unique basket and red and white mats as well as the handicraft industry in Port Vila, capital of the South Pacific Island nation.

Pentecost, Vanuatu's largest supplier of baskets and treasured red mat will reduce its supplies due to the threat of volcanic ash fall on North Pentecost which is closest to Ambae.

The decision by the Vanuatu government to compulsorily evacuate more than 11,000 people of Ambae to the evacuation site on the island of Maewo was made following continuous escalation of the Marano Vui volcano activity on Ambae.

The explosions and spewing of volcanic ash including the associated risks of lava flow and other related volcanic hazards based on the observation and monitoring of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazard Department (VMGD) showed it was too risky for the people of Ambae to continue to live on their island.

There are no signs of slowing down of the volcano and there has been strong magmatic activity of the volcano measured through seismic stations on the island.

The Volcano is at the Alert level 3 but recent observation has shown some aspects of the volcano had increased 10 to 20 times.

A clear example was the explosion which occurred on July 28 spewing volcanic particulars over 12 km high and emitting over 300.000 tons of gases into the air, spreading across the Pacific including Fiji and Solomon Islands causing cancelation of international flights between these countries and Vanuatu.

The Vanuatu government remains concerned about the life of over 11,000 people of Ambae and had arranged evacuation sites on Maewo.

A state of emergency was declared over Ambae and has been effective since July 26. The state of emergency will last till September 26, 2018.

Arrangements are underway through the National Disaster Management Office and the Penama disaster Emergency Operating Centre for evacuation.

The Vanuatu government said Maewo offers a unique solution to the people of Ambae as a second home option with sufficient vacant land to cater for all the Ambae population.

Maewo and Ambae have strong cultural linkage and the chiefs and leaders of both islands have agreed to settle on Maewo following their customary heritage.

The last significant eruption on the Ambae island happened in 2005. Enditem

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