5 Jun 2010

Tourists warned to keep distance from Mt Yasur in Vanuatu

10:29 am on 5 June 2010

Tourists are being warned to keep their distance from Mt Yasur in Vanuatu as the latest assessment of the active volcano remains at level three.

A technical advisor for the government's Geo hazard Unit, Sylvain Todman, says people should not get closer than 500 metres from the crater as volcanic rocks up to two metres wide are falling near an area that normally is easily reached by tourists.

"Currently it's not very beautiful. It's a little bit scary because its very explosive, it's very strong, the ground is rumbling, and you don't see so much things because if you're going on top you'll be stuck by the clouds and it will be dangerous because you won't see your pathway and maybe you won't see the bombs falling down to you."

Mr Todman says local people living within three kilometres of Mt Yasur are advised ash and gas may damage crops, contaminate water and might cause respiratory problems for pregnant women and children.

He says after talks with Civil Aviation, the airport in Vanuatu remains open and he expects that Mt Yasur's activity is likely to be downgraded to level two very soon.