Ni-Vanuatu authorities are reportedly preparing to permanently evacuate 10,000 people remaining on Ambae Island, which has faced a period of intense ashfall in recent months from the ongoing eruption of the Manaro Voui volcano. The ashfall has reportedly worsened the air quality of the island, killed crops, and polluted the water supply. Part of the population has already been evacuated to temporary shelters.
Though the volcano has remained relatively quiet over the past two weeks, as of Thursday, May 3, the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department has kept the Vanuatu Volcanic Alert Level for Manaro Voui at "Level 3" on a scale from level 1 (signs of volcanic unrest) to level 5 (risk of a very large eruption). Additional eruptions are possible at Manaro Voui in the coming weeks, as well as consequent transportation disruptions (including flight delays and cancelations) near the affected area, and associated health risks. Authorities have advised individuals on Ambae Island to keep out of a 3-km (1.9-mi) radius extending from the eruptive vents of Manaro Voui.
A mass evacuation of Ambae began on April 13, one day after a three-month long state of emergency was declared on the island due to intensifying volcanic activity. Manaro Voui's last significant eruption was in September 2017, when it prompted the temporary evacuation of the island's approximately 11,000 people. In general, the volcano has exhibited increased activity since 2005.
Vanuatu sits on an active seismic belt known as the Pacific Ring of Fire and frequently experiences earthquakes and volcanic activity. Over 2000 seismic events are reported yearly in Vanuatu, most of them of a small and manageable intensity.
Individuals present in Vanuatu are advised to monitor developments to the situation, be prepared for further volcanic activity, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
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