Volcanic activity on Vanuatu’s Ambae Island has picked up again over the last few days, with fresh ash fall reported across the island’s west and south.
Communities in the western and southern parts of Ambae are suffering badly from thick periodic ash fall which threaten their health, animals and vegetation.
The entire island was evacuated late last year when the volcano at the island’s centre erupted, blanketing the island in ash, suffocating crops and contaminating water sources.
The only population returned to their homes when the eruption settled down after a month, but on Sunday night the volcano’s alert level was raised from level 2 to 3, a “state of minor eruption.”
The Geohazards Department’s Melinda Aru said the volcano was showing increased activity and an exclusion zone had been extended to three km around the crater lake.
“We’ve got a few reports coming from Ambae concerning ash fall on the west, southwest and northwest as of last week until Sunday. We still have reports from Ambae concerning ash fall.”
Melinda Aru said the chance of the eruption increasing to the level seen in October last year was highly unlikely.
Reports on the Vanuatu Daily Post website on Monday said that people may need to shelter livestock and water tanks as the Lombenben volcano continues to emit ash.
The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department still grades the Ambae volcano at major unrest stage.
Destruction caused by the ash fall in affected areas is described as literally similar to a cyclone wiping out trees and crops.
Its weight caused plants and crops in the gardens like banana, cassava and cabbages to collapse.
Destruction done by volcanic ash on people, plants and crops depend largely on its thickness. Though it may causes health problems to livestock and human such as skin irritation and eye problem, volcanic ash can make the soil fertile.
Responsible authorities have warned that everyone, particularly children should be protected from the volcano’s ash and poisonous gases that poses a health risk.
The Vanuatu Red Cross Society (RCS) said it was working to establish a sub-branch in west Ambae to support communities during disasters.