SUVA, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- The evacuation of people from Vanuatu's volcanic Ambae island to the islands of Maewo and Santo is now completed after the Vanuatu government asked Ambae's people to have a compulsory evacuation.
According to Vanuatu's Daily Post newspaper website, Jesse Benjamin, director general of the Ministry of Climate Change and Natural Disasters (MOCC), said on Tuesday that there were no more people on Ambae island.
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.
The Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) members were deployed to get people off the island after an evacuation was ordered following a state of emergency which will end on Sept. 26.
The affected families from Lolopuepue in north Ambae made the trip over the weekend and an estimated 2,600 people are now on Maewo. But the figure is expected to increase as the Senior Provincial Liaison and Coordination Officer of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), Philip Meto, said that some of the evacuees who had voluntarily moved to other islands like Santo have indicated they want to go to Maewo.
Meto coordinated evacuation on west Ambae, and said approximately 1,860 people from the area have moved to Santo. The number of voluntary evacuees in other areas is yet to be determined.
The number of evacuation centers are slowly increasing as evacuees disembarked on Maewo. The Vanuatu government through its clusters are working to ensure food, water and hygiene kits and tarpaulins reach the people.
Evacuees are seeking temporary shelter with communities as they wait to move into permanent relocation sites. The Vanuatu government has assured that it will evacuate the people to Maewo and will continue to care for them until they recover.
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.
Declared over Ambae and has been effective since July 26, the state of emergency will last till September 26, this year.
The last significant eruption on Ambae island happened in 2005.