Vanuatu: Volcanic Eruption OCHA Situation Report No. 1

Situation Report
Originally published
Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2005/0212
OCHA Situation Report No. 1
Vanuatu - Volcanic Eruption

This situation report is based on information provided by the Government of Vanuatu and the UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Fiji.


1. Mt. Ambae volcano erupted on 27 November in Ambae Island of Vanuatu. Twelve to fifteen villages with a total population of about 5,000 have been affected. No casualties have been reported. There are no damages to houses except that they are covered with ash. Although people are still living in their homes, ash could affect their respiratory system and contaminate the source of water supply. Food crops have also been covered with ash. They have crops to last for only one to two weeks.

2. Ambae has a crater lake. There is a risk that the volcano could further erupt and cause flooding in the valleys. The Government may need to evacuate about 5,000 people in the high-risk area. The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) is working on an evacuation plan.

National Response

3. A national coordination team is monitoring the situation. The Vanuatu Police and the Mobile Force are informing the community of the situation. A senior volcanologist in Ambae is also providing the NDMO with information. They have approached the Government to seek international assistance for equipment for monitoring seismic activity.

4. On 29 November, a national assessment team, consisting of representatives from the different Government sectors and NDMO went to Ambae Island and carried out an assessment.

International Assistance

5. A meeting was held on 1 December with representatives of the donor community (Australia, France, New Zealand), Red Cross movement and other NGOs and the Government of Vanuatu (the Prime Minister's Office and NDMO). Another similar meeting is scheduled on 3 December in the capital, Port Vila.

6. New Zealand has received an official request from the Government of Vanuatu for 1) deployment of a volcanologist to assist in monitoring volcanic activity and 2) emergency response preparedness and logistic support. Further information on detailed requirements is awaited.

7. OCHA is in close contact with the Government of Vanuatu, the UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Fiji and the Government of New Zealand and will revert with further information as it becomes available. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at

Tel.: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers:

Mr. Masaaki Nakagawa, direct Tel. +41-22-917 4034

Press contact:

(GVA) Ms. Byrs Elizabeth, direct Tel. +41-22-917 2653
(N.Y.) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, direct Tel. + 1-917 367 5126

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit