Ambaeans told not to go back to their island

The Vanuatu Council of Ministers has warned Ambaeans to stay away from their island because volcanic activity is making it unsafe.

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.

However, the government confirmed that a multi-sector assessment of the island would take place within the next two weeks.

Eruptions have prompted two evacuations from Ambae in the last 18 months.

The island's population of about 11,000 people were moved to neighbouring islands in September 2017.

The state of emergency was lifted about a month later and residents returned to the island.

But in March this year, the volcano began erupting again prompting a voluntary evacuation which became compulsory at the end of July.