SUVA, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- About 8,000 people have been placed in the evacuation centers on Ambae, an island of Vanuatu after the island's Lombenben volcano erupted over the past days, and the evacuees are now short of food, water and other basic supplies.
According to the website of Vanuatu's Daily Post on Wednesday, 35 evacuation centers have been set up in the west and east of the island, but they are overcrowded and more evacuees are still arriving.
Most of the island's population has been relocated as the volcano at its center continues to erupt, covering the island in ash.
A government spokesperson said on Wednesday that international aid agencies were helping, and the Council of Ministers would consider asking other countries for support if the eruption worsens - which was hard to predict.
The volcano that towers 1,500 meters above Ambae has been rumbling for weeks, but on Saturday, it suddenly started belching ash and flashes of lava in the middle of the night.
The volcano is reportedly still going to erupt, and it has been destructive as trees and crops are dying. Over the past few days, authorities have been evacuating people in the north and south of the island to the east and west using whatever resources they had.
Ships hopped along the coast, while fully packed trucks made their way across the island's narrow, winding and bumpy tracks. Others walked as far as 20 km through swirling ash to safety.
The disaster coordinator for the Penama Provincial government Manuel Ure said on Wednesday that the evacuees in the evacuation centers were in desperate need of water, sanitation and hygiene.
He said that the island, which relied on rain tanks, was already short of water, and the ash fall has contaminated what's left, and those who haven't been evacuated now need support as they faced continuous challenge.
The government had declared a state of emergency, releasing nearly 2 million U.S. dollars for supplies and other support.
Vanuatu's director of the National Disaster Management Office, Shadrack Welegtabit, said on Wednesday that a government vessel was deployed from the country's capital city of Port Vila, packed with water, food, tents and other supplies.
Ambae's Lombenben is believed to be one of the most dangerously active volcanoes in the world and the Vanuatu authorities were also reportedly preparing for the possibility that the volcano eruption could get worse. If the alert level was raised from four to five, the entire island may have to be evacuated.
The last significant eruption on the Ambae island happened in 2005.