NO IMMEDIATE EVACUATION OF VILLAGERS HIT BY VANUATU VOLCANO

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (June 13, 2001 – Radio Australia)---The government of Vanuatu has no immediate plans to evacuate hundreds of Paama Island villagers whose water supplies were contaminated and ground crops destroyed by ash and sulfur from a nearby volcano that erupted six days ago.

As the government waits for assessments from its agencies on the dangers facing the villagers, the deputy director of the National Disaster Management Office, Philip Karie, said fresh water supplies are being sent to Paama.

Last Friday's eruption of a volcano on the uninhabited island of Lopeivi tossed thousands of tons of ash and sulfur into the air, blanketing Paama, home to about 2,000 people.

A second inhabited island, Ambryn, was also lightly coated by the fallout.

The eruption has contaminated all water supplies and food crops on Paama, leaving villagers to live on fish and wild yams roasted over open fires and dependent on bottled water being delivered by boats.

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

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