Ambae fully evacuating again as heavy ash continues blanketing the island, Vanuatu

Ambae is being fully evacuated again for the second time since September 2017 as heavy ash continues blanketing the island. The possibility that the Ambae volcano activity escalates to the level of moderate eruption is now moderate to high.

Vanuatu officials ordered thousands of residents of Ambae island to leave immediately after eruptions at Manaro Voui (Ambae, Aoba) volcano intensified over the past week.

Ash column rose up to 12 km (39 400 feet) above sea level on July 26, darkening some areas by so much ashfall that vehicles picking villagers up around midday had to use their headlights.

In addition, a major increase in SO2 emissions was detected over the past few days, with levels similar to those measured in early April when the volcano released more sulfur than in any eruption over the past 3 years.

Areas from South-East to East of Ambae including neighboring islands that are exposed to the upper-level wind direction will continue to expect ash fall, the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department said July 26.

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The volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 3 and danger to direct safety to life for visitors and communities remains at 3 km radius around the eruptive vent.

Similar activity will continue to be expected at Level 3. However, the possibility that the Ambae volcano activity escalates to the level of moderate eruption is now moderate to high.

The local population from Ambae and from neighboring islands will continue to hear rumbling, volcanic explosions, smell volcanic gases, see volcanic ash and gas column and glows over the mountain at night.

All tourism agencies, local authorities, people of Ambae and the general public are highly advised to consider this information, VMGD said.

Featured image credit: Tristina Karae

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