13:53 GMT +321 October 2019
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    Smoke emanates from the Manaro Voui volcano located on Vanuatu's northern island Ambae in the South Pacific, in this aerial photo

    Complete Evacuation of Pacific Island Underway as Volcano Rumbles

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    Asia & Pacific
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    Smoke and volcanic ash are filling the skies around Vanuatu’s island of Ambae as its Manaro volcano erupts. Ambae, one of the dozens of islands that make up the nation of Vanuatu, is being completely evacuated ahead of what could be a catastrophic eruption.

    Some 11,000 island residents will continue ferrying away from Ambae through October 6, on orders by Vanuatu officials. The evacuation came shortly after volcanic activity increased to Alert Level 4, the second highest rating. Vanuatu has also declared a state of emergency for Ambae.

    Residents near the volcano have reportedly seen smoke and heard harsh rumblings. This, coupled with a lengthy evacuation period, has many concerned for their safety, as the island is only 400 square kilometers in size.

    The nation's largest evacuation in history has brought together many churches, aid agencies, businesses and individuals volunteering assistance to the Vanuatu government. Currently, WASH and Food Security specialists have been called in to East and West Ambae for evacuation management while LC Urata shipped relief supplies on Thursday.

    While Ambae's mass evacuation is an anomaly, Vanuatu has a history of natural disasters so extensive that the nationed is ranked first in the World Risk Index. Within the past three years alone, the island nation has endured the Category 5 Cyclone Pam, which killed 16 people and left 75,000 temporarily homeless, and two large earthquakes, measured at 7 and 6.4 magnitude.

    "Vanuatu has consistently been rated as the country with the most exposure to natural disasters every year since the world hazard risk index has come out," Michael Wolfe, World Vision country director for Vanuatu, told Sputnik.

    Coincidentally, the Indonesian island of Bali also issued a 12-kilometer exclusion zone surrounding the center of one of their volcanoes, Mount Aguno, which authorities say could erupt at any moment.


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