About 11,600 successfully evacuated from Vanuatu's volcanic island Ambae

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-04 17:49:23|Editor: Mengjie
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SUVA, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Vanuatu authorities on Wednesday evacuated the entire population, of about 11,600 people, from the island of Ambae where the Manaro Voui volcano has been erupting, the government said.

The volcano has been raining rock and ash on villages over the past weeks, polluting many of the South Pacific Island state's water sources.

"We have moved an entire population of approximately 11,600 people from Ambae including the very young, elderly, disabled, people with ill health, etc," Vanuatu's Daily Post quoted a member of Ambae Manaro Organizing Committee as saying.

Of those who cannot stay with friends or family, the majority have found refuge in 36 evacuation centers scattered around Luganville, Santo. Besides Santo, the rest of the islanders have been evacuated to the islands of Maewo, Pentecost and the state's capital of Port Vila.

The evacuation succeeded in removing Ambae's population more than two days before the Vanuatu government's target of Friday.

Vanuatu's Prime Minister Charlot Salwai visited on Wednesday the people of Ambae that were evacuated out of the volcanic island to other islands following the State of Emergency declaration, when the volcano, the country's largest, reached level 4.

The purpose of the PM's meeting with the evacuees on Pentecost and Santo is to get first hand ground information because the life of the people is the priority to the government, a PM's Public Relations officer said.

Meanwhile, Vanuatu's Geohazards department said the threat from the volcano on Ambae was easing, although it still maintains its level four threat status - the second highest.

Recent observations indicated seismic activity was now limited to the volcano's crater lake, where a new island has formed in the center, the department said, adding that the possibility of a large eruption affecting the whole island was now looking less likely.

However, it could take months for Ambae's residents to return to their homes as the volcano is still puffing away. It is believed that the residents can only return to the island when the threat level is downgraded to three.

Vanuatu lies on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.