Ambae leader pleads to Vanuatu govt for help

An Ambae community leader is pleading for the Vanuatu government to act quickly to evacuate residents who are in dire straits with the island's volcano spewing ash and gas.

Due to a constant heavy ash fall which has covered food gardens, grass on which animals feed and contaminated water supplies, the government says there is no other way but to evacuate all inhabitants.

The Daily Post Newspaper reports Vanuatu's Council of Ministers has declared a state of emergency on Ambae and approved plans for a second but permanent evacuation of all 11,000 people on Ambae to other islands.

It also reports a task force is negotiating potential resettlement on the nearby islands of Maewo and Pentecost.

Nadia Kanegai said the call was welcome but they want urgent action as the situation is dire with lots of schools closed, people staying indoors and food and water sources contanimated.

"They are really desperate for help. Well south Ambae has moved to east Ambae."

"And the ashfall, like part of west Ambae was covered and it was dark cos of the smoke and the population there was remaining inside and could not come outside. And there was a gas emission as well. So the people are scared," she said.


Photo by Vanuatu Red Cross. Caption: Residents use umbrellas to shelter from ashfall on Ambae island