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By Evelyne Toa

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (The Independent, Dec. 5) – Vanuatu community leaders including chiefs on Ambae are currently enforcing disaster preparedness in the face of threats from Manaro volcano.

It has produced a continuous mud and ash eruption since last week.

[PIR editor’s note: Ambae is a small island located north of Efate island where the capital city of Port Vila is situated.]

Following a meeting held by the National Disaster Committee Friday morning, an meeting was later organized in the afternoon at the Chiefs' nakamal at Nambatu, inviting Ambaeans, residents of Port Vila, to attend. No further reports could be obtained as we went to print Friday.

The Natural Disaster Management Office in Vila said that the current situation of Manaro has reached Level 2, which indicates it is a danger to approach the vent of the volcano as it signals continuing eruptions.

In that level, the operational system under the Joint Police Operations Center involves the Natural Disaster Management Office director, who is responsible for exercising overall control for the Ambae volcano operation. He will liaise with geology and mines personnel and implement whatever action is necessary to ensure support organizations are informed and activated in a timely and appropriate manner. The Natural Disaster Management Office director is also responsible for the placement of community alerts, and for awareness information aimed at ensuring a well-prepared community. The director issues any order for evacuation following advice from geology and mines that such action is necessary, and only after the prime minister and minister of internal affairs have been briefed on the seriousness of the situation.

The police operation center has been on 24 hours daily monitoring the situation since Friday.

The Natural Disaster Management Office further confirmed that as requested earlier last week, FRANZ partners (France, Australia and New Zealand) are ready to send in technical assistance at the weekend. New Zealand will provide monitoring equipment, and France experts and vulcanologists from New Caledonia. They were to leave Port Vila yesterday (Saturday) for aerial reconnaissance above Manaro Lake and Voui on Ambae for further consideration and monitoring.

The Independent understands that Prime Minister Ham Lini and Minister Georges Wells of internal affairs, responsible for the Natural Disaster Management Office, were also to take a first aerial view on Ambae.

December 8, 2005

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