Natural disasters are coming fast and furious around the globe. About 6,000 people have been evacuated from the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu because of an erupting volcano.
Although the Monaro volcano on Ambae island has been active since 2005, however, sudden activity on Saturday raised fears of a major eruption. The director of Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office Shadrack Welegtabit said on Tuesday that Vanuatu would declare an emergency on the island after the volcano’s activity measure was raised to Level Four for the first time over the weekend.
Vanuatu is located about one-quarter of the way from Australia to Hawaii. It’s made up of 80 islands, about 65 of which are inhabited, and is home to around 280,000 people. The nation is considered one of the world’s most prone to natural disasters, with a half-dozen active volcanoes as well as regular cyclones and earthquakes. It rests on the Pacific’s ‘Ring of Fire,’ the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes and volcanoes are common.
Welegtabit also said those villagers had been moved into schools and community halls in the island’s eastern and western regions and that authorities have already planned to send a ship to the island filled with water, food, and other supplies to help those people who had been displaced. That ship is due to arrive on Wednesday.
Almost 50,000 people are currently evacuated from the island nation of Bali in Indonesia as well, due to an imminent volcanic eruption there.
“There’s ash, fire, stones, and lava being thrown out from the mouth of the volcano,” Welegtabit said. “There’s a lot of activity going on.” He also said that it’s difficult to say whether there will be a major eruption and that those who have been evacuated will just have to sit and wait for further instruction. At this time, evacuees are in limbo.
Vanuatu was also close to a 6.4 magnitude earthquake that occurred on September 20 of this year.
Vanuatu’s Meteorology and Geohazards Department said that villagers within 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) of the volcano face the biggest risk from airborne rocks and volcanic gas. The department also warned that acid rain could damage crops across a broader area.
“With the seismic machine, we can measure what’s happening but we can’t really predict what the volcano will do next,” he said.