Police deployed to Vanuatu's Ambae ahead of mass evacuation

A patrol boat loaded with police and mobile force personnel is being deployed to the Vanuatu island of Ambae this afternoon to help with a mass evacuation.

A state of emergency has been declared on the island, with the volcano at the island's centre continuing to erupt, blanketing much of the island in ash.

The government announced last week that a mass evacuation would again take place, with people from the islands north, west and south being moved to the far east coast or nearby smaller islands.

A spokesperson for the National Disaster Management Office, Presley Tari, said food supplies are being distributed by the provincial government, and the patrol boat is leaving Port Vila today.

Mr Tari said the mass evacuation will begin once the forces arrive and establish themselves which is likely to be later on this week.

Ambae is in Penama Province and the provincial government has secured land on the island's east side for victims of the ongoing eruption.

This comes as the central government's ministerial task force is still yet to complete negotiations to acquire land for resettlement on either Maewo or Pentecost - the two closest islands.

The Penama Provincial president, Alban Garaevui, said his government has made the first installment of $US9,386 dollars to a custom landowner, so people who will move from Ambae can live there and develop gardens.

Landowner Stevenson Vusilai said he couldn't be happy while others on Ambae Island continue to suffer from the volcanic ash fall.

Traditionally the east of Ambae has been the safest part of the island during eruptions, but wind changes have carried the ash in that direction as well.

Reports from the island confirmed that ash is continuing to fall.