27 Oct 2017

Water a key worry for returning Ambae islanders

3:36 pm on 27 October 2017

Parts of the Vanuatu island recovering from a month long volcanic eruption are facing a major water shortage.

Evacuees from Ambae being registered as they arrive at Espiritu Santo.

Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

The Vanuatu government on Thursday ended the state of emergency with the 11,000 people evacuated from Ambae three weeks ago now back on the island.

A provincial disaster official, Manuel Ure, said people are mostly happy to be back but they remained reliant on food and water supplies from the government.

He said many open water sources around the island had been contaminated by ash.

"At the moment we are depending on the government supplies for drinking water. The far south of the island they are also running out of water and we at the moment are mobilising ourselves to transport most of the water from the provincial headquarters down to people from the south."

Mr Ure said a light fall of ash was continuing across much of Ambae.

A level-three alert remains in place and Mr Ure said as long as that stayed, government aid would continue to flow in.

Once it is lifted however, the islanders will have to fend for themselves.

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