Volcano may force permanent relocation of more than 10,000 people in Vanuatu

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
April 18, 2018, 7:46:12 AM EDT

The island of Ambae in Vanuatu is once again feeling the wrath of the Manaro Volcano.

The volcano began erupting in March with more significant eruptions over the past week, dropping widespread ash on the island which is home to around 11,000 people.

The entire island was evacuated last year due to violent eruptions, and a new round of evacuations could make those evacuations permanent.

Volcano AP 4/16

This Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017 photo provided by GeoHazards Divison, Vanuatu Meteorological and GeoHazards Department, shows an aerial view of the volcanic cone that has formed in Lake Vui near the summit of Ambae Island, Vanuatu. (Brad Scott/GeoHazards Divison, VMGD via AP)

While initially impacting only southern parts of the island, more powerful eruptions and changing wind patterns have caused ash to cover the entire island.

Lindsay Ford, Chairman of Rotary International on Norfolk Island, said the humanitarian organization has been notified of at least four deaths related to the volcano in recent days.

Some areas have endured significant ash falls which has forced the Vanuatu government to consider permanently relocating all the residents of the island.

The Vanuatu government has met with chiefs from the islands of Maemo and Pentecost to attempt to acquire land for the current residents of Ambae, according to ABC.

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Vanuatu’s Council of Ministers hopes to have land secured by the end of May.

Food supplies have been completely destroyed by the falling ash, and water sources have been polluted.

Fears of starvation, dehydration and spreading disease are forcing widespread evacuations.

A boat full of police from Port Vila was sent to the island on Tuesday to help with evacuation efforts.

Impacts are expected to remain limited to Ambae Island barring a more significant eruption.

Winds will generally be from the east to southeast this week, carrying the heaviest ash falls to western and northwestern parts of the island.

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