Volcanic ash turns day into night on Ambae and blankets Vanuatu island forcing villagers to flee in pictures and videos


The alert level for the Manaro volcano has been raised to level three after eruptions. Now, volcanic ash blankets Vanuatu island forcing villagers to flee.

Too much ash after Ambae eruptions: Impassable roads and ash-covered landscape. Picture by Vanuatu Red Cross

Hundreds of villagers are being evacuated from a volcanic Vanuatu island as thick ash from minor eruptions blanket the island. The threat level of Manaro volcano on Ambae island was raised from two to three on Saturday by the country’s Meteorological and Geo-Hazards Department.

Vanuatu’s Red Cross reports several villages have become uninhabitable and the organisation is providing humanitarian assistance.

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Ambae erupting on July 25, 2018. Satellite picture by NASA Aqua/MODIS

We tried to travel to the south today but we have to turn back, because trees are falling, visibility is very very poor, we cannot see far more than two meters,” said Vanuatu Red Cross Disaster Management Coordinator Augustin Garae on social media.

This video was recorded on July 25, 2018, around noon, just after a new eruption of the Ambae volcano. Dramatic ashfall changes day into night:

Mass evacuation happening now in the south of Ambae, as the situation is worsening,” the Vanuatu Red Cross posted, adding communications infrastructure was failing.

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Ashfall after eruption of Ambae volcano on July 25, 2018. Pictures by Vanuatu Red Cross

Two evacuation centre’s are now hosting 95 households with a total of 372 population. Yesterday 107 people in the south have fled their homes to Santo (Island) on MV Princes Mary.

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Cars have to turn up their lights due to volcanic ashfall on Ambae. Pictures by Vanuatu Red Cross

The Red Cross said hundreds of more villagers had registered for voluntary evacuation and another boat is due to arrive to help on Thursday to help relocate to a neighbouring island.

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Trees covered in ash eruption of Ambae volcano on July 25, 2018. Pictures by Vanuatu Red Cross

Scientific analyses confirm that the current activity is similar to the volcanic activity of March 2018 with more and sustained emissions of volcanic ashes,” the Meteorological and Geo-Hazards department said before adding: “The Danger Zone for life safety is now limited at a three-kilometre radius from the active vent.

In May the Vanuatu government announced plans to permanently evacuate Ambae’s approximate 10,000 inhabitants to other islands.

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