14 Dec 2005

Three thousand now in relocation camps in wake of Vanuatu volcanic eruption

3:20 pm on 14 December 2005

Around three thousand people are now being cared for in 15 relocation centres on the coastal fringe of Vanuatu's Ambae Island, as Mt Manaro continues to erupt.

The volcano is continuously emitting steam with periodic explosions tossing out ash.

Most of that ash is settling back on the cone which has grown significantly since the eruption began.

Scientists say the risk from the volcano is low but Job Esau from the National Disaster Management Office says ships remain on standby off the coast, in case they are needed to evacuate people.

Mr Esau, who has just arrived on Ambae, says the people in the relocation centres appear to have what they need in terms of food and medicine.

"I haven't gone to all camps yet but the information I have is that people are O.K. though one or two of the places are overcrowded, but the people are moving and doing some activity to make sure they can still accommodate the numbers that they have in those areas."

Another seven thousand people remain in their villages and JJob Esau says aid teams have today gone to check on their health status.