Vanuatu trying to evacuate entire island ahead of volcano eruption

A volcano on the island of Ambae is prompting the government-forced evacuation of the entire island in Vanuatu. Photo courtesy Vanuatu Red Cross/Facebook

Sept. 29 (UPI) — The government of Vanuatu is trying to evacuate all residents on the island of Ambae as a volcanic eruption appears imminent.

The evacuation of more than 11,000 of the island dwellers will likely require a “Dunkirk-style operation,” one local journalist told Radio New Zealand, referencing the World War II evacuation of allied forces from France aided by British civilians.

“We’re going to have to mobilize a lot of civilian marine craft in order to accommodate that large number of people in such a short period of time,” journalist Dan McGarry said.

Clouds of ash from the Lombenben volcano have already fallen onto Ambae’s villages, the Vanuatu Daily Post reported.

The newspaper reported Friday morning local time that there were some 6,000 residents in need of humanitarian assistance.

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai said the volcano’s activity has increased and that he doesn’t want to take any chances with the lives of the island’s residents.

“It is better to rescue people and save lives now than get blamed later when worse happens,” Salwai said.


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