16 May 2006

Vanuatu government still to decide how to respond to latest volcanic eruption

8:35 pm on 16 May 2006

Vanuatu's Home Affairs minister says the government is waiting on a report from disaster officers before deciding on a response to the Lopevi eruption in Malampa province.

George Wells is expecting National Disaster Management briefings on the emergency which has caused heavy ashfall on nearby islands.

People on Ambrym and Paama have lost staple vegetable crops and water has been contaminated by the ash clouding the air.

While villagers in south eastern Ambrym say the government is slow to respond to its requests for help, Mr Wells says they can only act when they receive strategy reports from the ground.

"Well, we can act first but we have to get all the information from the ground before we start to take some strategy to either deal with the situation urgently or remove the people from the island and put them on a nearby island."

George Wells says the Council of Ministers will meet this Thursday to make a constructive decision on the Lopevi eruption.