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October 2, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Vanuatu Volcano Displaces Thousands

An eruption of one of the world’s most active volcanoes has caused at least 6000 people to flee their homes on the island of Ambae in Vanuatu.

The Monaro volcano, active since 2005, has been rumbling for weeks. An increase in activity on September 23 led to the volcano’s activity being classified as a “moderate eruption,” prompting the evacuation of villagers from the north and south of the island.

The villagers within range of the volcano, which make up half of the island’s population, have been evacuated to the east and west of the island. “It’s quite a serious emergency,” according to Chairman of Ambae’s Disaster Committee, Manuel Amu. “Moving people from their communities into an area with very limited houses and very limited resources like food and water; it’s really a challenging issue.”

The volcanic activity has thrown ash, fire, stones, and lava from the mouth of the volcano. Villages and crops in the north and south of the island have been blanketed in the volcanic ash.

Vanuatu’s Geohazard Department has raised the volcanic alert system from level three to level four. Level four indicates a “moderate eruption state,” compared to level five, which indicates a “full-blown” eruption.

Director of Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office, Shadrack Welegtabit, told ABC that it was difficult to say if a full-blown eruption would follow, and those evacuated would have to just wait it out.

“With the seismic machine we can measure what’s happening, but we can’t really predict what the volcano will do next,” he said.

New Zealand scientists are monitoring the volcanic activity, having flown an Air Force Orion over the island on Tuesday in an attempt to assess the activity.

If the volcano does erupt, devastating effects on the island are predicted, including villages being destroyed by ashfall and acid rain.

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