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By Gratien Tiona

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (The Independent, Aug. 29) – Activity of the Marum volcano on Ambrym has apparently stopped for several days.

A villager at Port Vato on the south of the island told the Independent by phone Thursday evening that a guide who accompanied some tourists the night before, right up to the volcano, returned with bizarre news: There were no explosions, and the higher part of the crater had fallen in, leaving a wave motion on the surface, fumaroles and an acric smell.

"Marum seems to draw back on itself. Only the wave motion and the fumaroles suggest a volcano. The guide told us that at the place he stopped with the tourists they could hear subterranean explosions, resulting in jolts. We were certain something strange was going on there. One thinks that Marum could explode elsewhere, not far from the actual crater," said David Bong.

He refuted information published in the Daily Post that a new volcano had opened up between Marum and Benbow.

"We are not aware of this occurrence. The guide goes daily and has seen nothing like that described. The only thing we know is that Marum is going to spout at another location in view of its present situation," continued our spokesman.

We were told that the equipment installed near Marum to monitor its activity was destroyed, along with certain telephone equipment, by a known individual, a few months ago. Since then the department has no way of monitoring what's going on on the island. Only the Air Club has been able to pass on reports from reconnaissance flights they have made.

Otherwise Bong was able to tell us that the melons for which Ambrym is noted would be good this year.

"Marum no longer throwing out ash, and with a season such as we are having, the gardens are full of melons. Harvest will be good," he said, but somewhat doubtfully, as much depends on what the volcano is doing.

August 31, 2005

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