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PORT VILA, Vanuatu---The government is scrambling to help hundreds of people left almost without food or fresh water following a volcanic eruption.

The National Disaster Management Office reports that an eruption on the volcanic island of Lopevi blanketed the nearby island of Paama in a layer of ash that destroyed crops and contaminated fresh water supplies.

There are no reports of injuries.

About 2,000 people have been left with contaminated water supplies and crops buried under the ash.

An Australian navy vessel has taken emergency drinking water to Paama, and another ship is due tomorrow with emergency water. One hundred high school students and their teachers will be evacuated.

A government emergency team is assessing whether to evacuate the remaining villagers.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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