Fears belching Vanuatu volcano may blow

An aerial photograph of the Manaro Voui volcano on Ambae Island in Vanuatu. (New Zealand Defence Force, AFP)
An aerial photograph of the Manaro Voui volcano on Ambae Island in Vanuatu. (New Zealand Defence Force, AFP)

Wellington - A rumbling, belching volcano that's threatening to blow has forced more than 7 000 people to flee their homes and authorities to declare an emergency on an island in the Pacific nation of Vanuatu.

The Manaro volcano on Ambae island has long been active, but a recent increase in activity has raised fears of a major eruption. About 10 000 people live on the island, and villagers close to the volcano have been moved to schools and community halls on the island's less vulnerable eastern and western regions.

Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office Director Shadrack Welegtabit said on Wednesday a ship had arrived earlier in in the day carrying food, water and other essential supplies. He said a second ship was due to arrive on Friday.

Vanuatu is home to about 280 000 people.

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