Dunkirk-style evacuation as Vanuatu volcano pollutes drinking water
Vanuatu has launched a Dunkirk-style evacuation on the northern island of Ambae as a flotilla of boats rescues islanders from an erupting volcano that has polluted many of the island’s sources of drinking water.
About 1000 people were moved off the island over the 24 hours to Sunday evening with another 900 expected to leave tomorrow, Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office told Reuters in Ambae.
The Vanuatu Government wants all 11,000 islanders evacuated by Oct. 6.
Australia sent amphibious Bay Class landing ship HMAS Choules on Saturday to help move the population, and it is expected to arrive by the middle of the week.
The volcano is crowned by crater lakes. One of them, Lake Voui, is directly on top of the eruption making it dangerously explosive and posing the deadly threat of a lahar: a boiling mud flow down the side of the mountain, Macquarie University vulcanologist Christopher Firth told Reuters by telephone on Saturday.