New Zealand to help Pacific neighbours evacuate

New Zealand imposed a two-week travel ban on arrivals from and through China on Monday and also warns its citizens to leave China fast.

Australia, the United States and seven other countries including Fiji, Russia, Japan and Indonesia, have also imposed entry restrictions on people from China, in an effort to limit contagion of the coronavirus from its source in Wuhan.

New Zealand's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said preparations for the evacuation were well under way.

Ambaeans told not to go back to their island

The state of emergency on Ambae was lifted on Monday but the Manaro volcano remains at alert level two on the five stage scale.

A government press release said people should not go back to the island and that chiefs of Ambae would be held responsible for members of their communities that returned.

Ambaeans should concentrate their efforts on building a second home on a neighbouring island, it said.

Government workers will not be sent back to Ambae because their safety cannot be guaranteed.

Efforts to restore sense of routine for Ambae children

Most of the 10,000 residents of Ambae have relocated to the islands of Maewo and Santo.

The NGO said that included about 2000 children but there were not enough schools available to accommodate them.

Its Vanuatu country director, Georgia Tacey, said so far the group had set up seven tents to provide child friendly spaces on the island of Maewo, where there were about 800 displaced children.

"We have a focus on keeping children safe and away from adult conversations so it's there to support their psychosocial recovery - not so much focusing on structured learning."

Ambae evacuees accepting their fate

The volcano at the centre of Ambae Island continues to erupt, smothering the island in ash that is killing crops and making breathing difficult.

In a repeat of last year's mass evacuation, people are now being herded onto ships to flee to other islands but this time it seems they will not return.

The government ordered the mandatory evacuation last month and declared a state of emergency after the ash fall intensified.

Australia provides $US1.5m for resettling Ambae people

Canberra said its assistance will help pay for evacuating the 10,000-strong population on commercial vessels.

The money will also be used to support the government and charities provide shelter, water, health and education to the evacuees and host communities on neighbouring Maewo.

The government said it was also providing further expertise to bolster the Vanuatu government's efforts to resettle people from Ambae.



Ambae residents ordered to evacuate - Vanuatu govt

A government minister, Ralph Regenvanu, said the decision was made by cabinet this morning.

The volcano at the island's centre, which has been erupting in fits and bursts since September, has increased its activity in recent days.

On Thursday, reports from the island indicated that ash fall was so severe the sun was blocked.

Hundreds of Ambaeans have already opted to leave voluntarily, most of them to Vanuatu's large, north island of Espiritu Santo.

Volcanic ash turns day into night on Vanuatu's Ambae

Eyewitnesses said in the worst affected areas ash fall darkened the sky so much yesterday that vehicles picking villagers up around midday had to use their headlights.

Even the safe zones on East Ambae were no longer safe and victims were being relocated to Lolowai which is on the north eastern side of Ambae, they said.

The National Disaster Management Office told the Daily Post newspaper that the MV Tauraken was expected to transport people mainly from south Ambae to the nearby island of Maewo today.

Vanuatu NDMO predicts low evacuation numbers from Ambae

Operations Manager of the NDMO Peter Korisa said about 1000 people of the island's 10,000 inhabitants had already left of their own accord.

He said the island's volcano had been erupting since last September but increased its activity in April with ash fall ruining crops and volcanic gases contributing to acid rain contaminating water supplies.

He said the volcano was unpredictable and the government is advising people to take up the government's help to leave if they are not coping but he predicted most were likely to stay.

Vanuatu to permanently evacuate volcanic island

Most villagers on the northern island of Ambae had only recently returned home. The 11,000 people on the island were forced to leave last September when the Manaro volcano erupted.

The latest evacuation is not compulsory but the government said it wants those who left to stay away for good and resettle elsewhere.

The Council of Ministers has approved 4 permanent settlements on the nearby island of Maewo, which it will lease from landowners.

The government will organize and pay for the evacuation beginning June 1 and finishing July 30.

Mixed feelings on Ambae as permanent evacuation considered

Heavy ashfall from the volcano last month covered parts of the island collapsing buildings, contaminating water supplies and killing off food crops.

Thousands of people have been relocated to safer parts on the island but the Vanuatu Council of Ministers is considering permanently evacuating Ambae.

New Zealand volcanologist, Brad Scott has been supporting the Vanuatu Geohazards Department to monitor the eruption.

Mr Scott was on Ambae last week and said there were mixed reactions to the proposed evacuation.