Garaevui: 8,000 expected to be evacuated as Volcanic activity intensifies

As lava glow, ash and rock debris start showing signs around Ambae, the Penama Provincial Government President, Alban Garaevui say’s “the Provincial Government is expecting to evacuate and relocate over 8,000 residents around the north, south and western parts of Ambae.”

Mr. Garaevui says “the evacuation process and plans are already in place and people are now being moved as planned since yesterday 24th Of July 2017.”

“The Provincial Government does not have enough resources for this type of operations but with support from the NDMO, we are engaging local transport businesses to support the evacuations as best we can.”

“Evacuations have been happening yesterday, throughout the night till early morning today and still continuing today”

The Provincial Government President, Alban Garaevui is asking “everyone to comply with the evacuation and follow through as directed by the awareness the last few weeks.”

“We already have a natural disaster” say’s Garaevui “and do not need to have another man made disaster during the evacuation process, so I am asking everyone to be responsible and move to areas where vehicles and boats can move them to safe zone’s”

“Most of the Southern parts of Ambae, the North and West side are the most populated parts of the island and both these areas are directly close to the danger zones.”

“The first evacuations has seen the elderly, children, and pregnant women being moved to safe zones and evacuations are still continuing”

“LC Freedom will be arriving at South Ambae later today and will evacuate starting from Lolovotali to Red Cliff. The officer in charge is John Joe, and I ask all residents there to keep in contact with the officer at all times”

Garaevui says “the volcano has been more active than before and with the visible lava glow which we are witnessing for the first time, the Penama Provincial Government is very serious on quick evacuations of its residents to safe zones”

Garaevui is overwhelmed by the support given by businesses in Santo who not only offered land to relocated Ambae residents but also offered to provide transport as well.

“Both Sanma Provincial Government and the Malapa Provincial Government have extended their support already and we wait to hear the assessments from the the NDMO who will be arriving on Ambae today.” says Garaevui.

The Vanuatu Government is also on alert and wait for the assessment by NDMO and should see an urgent COM meeting sometimes today to decide if Ambae should be declared a disaster zone.

A vent in or near the caldera lake Voui has been producing mild ash emissions over the past weeks, but these have now become stronger and for the first time lava glow also was observed, suggesting that the eruption is transitioning from phreatic (steam-driven) to magmatic (arrival of fresh magma).

Early hours of today, lava glow was visible from Saratamata, the Provincial headquarters based on Ambae Island.