7 Dec 2005

New Zealand officials standing by to further assist Vanuatu over volcanic activity

4:54 pm on 7 December 2005

New Zealand officials are standing by to assist Vanuatu in any further requests for help after the evacuation of thousands of people following a volcanic eruption on Ambae.

A water sanitation expert is heading to Vanuatu and will join scientists there who are monitoring the activity of the Manaro volcano.

Up to 5000 people have left their homes from the slopes near the volcano to go to the coast.

New Zealand's high commissioner in Port Vila, Paul Willis, says the scientists are reporting a continued low to moderate activity level so attention is now turning to how to feed and shelter the evacuees.

"If the volcano continues at its current rate of activity and the risk remains, then you've got half the population of the island who have been relocated in to, or close to other villages. And, there will be an ongoing issue about how to feed them, their water and shelter, and such-like."

Paul Willis, New Zealand's high commissioner to Vanuatu.