30 Nov 2009

Gaua evacuation in Vanuatu to be over by mid-week

5:07 pm on 30 November 2009

The evacuation of hundreds of people living in the ash plume of an erupting volcano in Vanuatu is expected to be complete by the middle of this week.

More than 350 people are being evacuated because of the health effects of gas and ashfall from Mt Garet on the island of Gaua.

These include respiratory problems, diarrhoea, sore throats and eyes, and skin irritations.

The National Disaster Management Office says about 200 people have been relocated from the west to the east of the island since last Thursday.

It says about another 150 people should be moved by Wednesday.

The director of the office, Job Esau, says the evacuees are staying with relatives, but if the volcanic activity is prolonged they will have to consider other options.

"Then we will negotiate to make a permanent relocation area, whether in the eastern side, or if the situation gets to Level 3 or 4 alert level, then we might move them out to another island."

Job Esau from Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office