On 3 October, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) transported 12 tonnes of aid supplies for the thousands of evacuees who have fled Vanuatu’s erupting volcano.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft loaded with aid supplies took off for Luganville, Vanuatu’s second largest city, about 65 km west of Manaro Voui volcano on Ambae Island. The aid supplies included 800 tarpaulins, 800 family hygiene kits, 200 mother-and-infant kits and five diesel generators.
Major General Tim Gall, commander of Joint Forces New Zealand, said: “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. 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 order the compulsory evacuation of Ambae’s 11,000 residents by 6 October. About half of the island’s residents have reportedly gone to emergency shelters in the surrounding islands of Espiritu Santo, Maewo and Pentecost, said the NZDF. 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.