The New Zealand Defence Force will conduct an aerial survey of an erupting volcano on Vanuatu’s Ambae Island on Tuesday to help authorities determine the imminence of a large eruption.
25 September 2017
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is planning to conduct an aerial survey of an erupting volcano on Vanuatu’s Ambae Island on Tuesday to help authorities determine the imminence of a large eruption.
Group Captain Nick Olney, the Acting Air Component Commander, said a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-K2 Orion aircraft returning from maritime security operations in the Middle East would survey three of Vanuatu’s active volcanoes on its way home.
The aerial survey had been planned before Ambae’s recent activity intensified and would also include Ambrym and Lopevi volcanoes, Group Captain Olney said.
“The Orion has sophisticated surveillance capabilities that will allow us to monitor volcanic activity from a safe distance.
“The imagery taken by the aircraft will help Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office assess recent volcanic activity and their potential impacts.”
Vanuatu authorities recently raised the official alert level to four as an eruption on Ambae Island continued to intensify. The alert levels range from 0 to 5, with level 5 indicating a large-scale eruption.
About 10,000 people live on Ambae Island, which has one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Authorities have observed ash falls across the island and have warned of acid rain and pyroclastic mud flows.
There are about 100 New Zealanders in Vanuatu.
The NZDF deployed about 350 personnel, amphibious sealift vessel HMNZS Canterbury and three aircraft to support disaster relief efforts in Vanuatu following the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam in 2015.