Mass evacuation and foreign aide for Vanuatu volcano threat

Australia has deployed HMAS Choules, personnel and humanitarian aide to communities displaced from Vanuatu’s Ambae Island due to volcanic activity, with more aide announced today.

CAPTIONRAAF personnel are assisted by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Palladium workers and Vanuatu locals to unload Australian Aid supplies from a RAAF C-17 Globemaster at Santo-Pekoa International Airport in Vanuatu as part of Operation Vanuatu Assist 2017. Photo by Leading Seaman Jake Badior.

The evacuation of residents from Ambae Island – approximately 11,600 people – is now complete.

Around 8000 people were evacuated to the island of Espiritu Santo, with around 3000 more to nearby islands of Pentecost and Maewo.

Australia is delivering much-needed humanitarian supplies to meet the needs of up to 7500 people – tents for temporary shelter, kitchen supplies and lighting will provide relief to families and improve community safety.

Australian assistance will also provide access to clean water.

The Australian Defence Force delivered the first two loads of supplies to Luganville on Tuesday and Wednesday via a C-17 transport aircraft, adding to those already provided by New Zealand.

Further supplies will be delivered by the Australian Defence Force over the coming days.

HMAS Choules, which arrived in Vanuatu this morning, will assist with the distribution of relief supplies between islands.

Manaro’s eruption intensified in late September, prompting the Vanuatu authorities to raise the alert level to four and order the compulsory evacuation of Ambae’s residents by 6 October.

Volcanic alert levels range from zero to five, with level five indicating a large-scale eruption.

A RNZAF Orion, on its way home from the Middle East, last week conducted an aerial survey of Manaro volcano to help Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office determine if a large eruption was imminent.

The aerial survey, which also included Ambrym and Lopevi volcanoes, found huge columns of smoke, ash and volcanic rocks billowing from the crater of Manaro volcano.

Operation Vanuatu Assist 2017 is the Australian Defence Force’s humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief (HADR) contribution to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-led support to the government of Vanuatu.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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