The Vanuatu government in the South Pacific has ordered the evacuation of the entire population of one of its islands due to an erupting volcano.
Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Charlot Salwai has ordered the compulsory evacuation of all 11,000 people on Ambae Island.
“The operation will begin immediately and is expected to be completed by Oct. 6,’’ local media reported.
It also reported that most of the people would be relocated to the neighbouring island of Pentecost, mostly by ship.
According to emergency officials, this is the first time an entire population of the island has been evacuated.
In 2005, a volcano eruption on Ambae prompted 5,000 locals to flee their homes.
A state of emergency was declared on Ambae recently after the volcano, known as Manaro at the island’s centre showed increasing activity since the weekend.
Plumes of smoke, flying rocks and ash have covered parts of the island.
Vanuatu’s Meteorology and Geohazards Department has issued a level-four alert; the second highest, which means the volcano was in a “moderate eruption state”.
They also warned of flying rocks, volcanic gas, acid rain, and ash falls.
More than 7,000 people had already been evacuated from their homes in north and south to the temporary shelters in east and west of the island.
Officials have also warned of shortages of food and drinking water.
Ambae, like Bali’s Agung, where a volcano eruption is imminent, sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, experiencing regular earthquakes and volcanoes.