The New Zealand Defence Force is today transporting 12 tonnes of aid supplies for the thousands of evacuees who have fled Vanuatu’s erupting volcano.
3 October 2017
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is today transporting 12 tonnes of aid supplies for the thousands of evacuees who have fled Vanuatu’s erupting volcano.
Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft loaded with aid supplies was on its way to Luganville, Vanuatu’s second largest city, about 65 kilometres west of Manaro Voui volcano on Ambae Island.
The aid supplies include 800 tarpaulins, 800 family hygiene kits, 200 mother-and-infant kits and five diesel generators.
“These supplies will help meet the basic needs for power, sanitation and shelter of the people who have fled for the safety of surrounding islands,” Major General Gall said.
“We have been working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and are ready to provide further assistance if required.”
Manaro’s eruption intensified in late September, prompting the Vanuatu authorities to raise the alert level to four and order the compulsory evacuation of Ambae’s 11,000 residents by 6 October. Alert levels range from 0 to 5, with level 5 indicating a large-scale eruption.
About half of the island’s residents have reportedly gone to emergency shelters in the surrounding islands of Espiritu Santo, Maewo and Pentecost. Some have moved to stay with friends or relatives in the Vanuatu capital, Port Vila.
The NZDF last week conducted an aerial survey of Manaro volcano to help Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office determine if a large eruption was imminent.
The aerial survey, which also included Ambrym and Lopevi volcanoes, found huge columns of smoke, ash and volcanic rocks billowing from the crater of Manaro volcano.
Three NZDF staff flew to Vanuatu on Sunday to form part of an initial assessment team that is helping the New Zealand High Commission at Port Vila plan and determine what further support may be required. The NZDF supported disaster relief efforts in Vanuatu following the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam in 2015.