A disaster official on Vanuatu's Ambae island said the island was again being blanketed by ash and acid rain, only months after residents returned (RNZI, 19 Mar 2018). Government officials raised the Volcanic Alert Level from 2 to 3 on 18 March 2018. Ambae volcano is a very large volcano and is frequently active. Eruptions have been recorded every 10 to 50 years over the past 150 years. The current eruption is focused in the summit crater. (Gov't Vanuatu, 18 Mar 2018)
As of 16 April, the volcano once again spewed out ash and harmful smoke. Vanuatu's government is now looking into acquiring land to permanently resettle the island's 13,000 residents (ABC, 16 Apr 2018). The Council of Ministers has declared a State of Emergency on Ambae Island. Approximately 750 people have lost their homes, 643 as a result of the volcanic ash, and 115 by landslides. The Council of Ministers has ordered the entire population to evacuate the island. (OCHA, 23 Apr 2018)
As of 27 April, there has been resistance to the mandatory evacuation plan over a 2-week period between 1 to 15 May. The Penama provincial government declared that they will purchase land on the West and East of Ambae to accommodate people who need to evacuate form the worst affected areas. The proportion of the population who will require on-/off-island assistance remains unclear, and it is anticipated that evacuated populations will require emergency shelter assistance and household items. (IFRC, 27 Apr 2018)
As of 15 May, the volcanic activity has decreased with reduced ashfall experienced during first two weeks of May. The ash has, however, increased the risk of landslides, two of which were triggered by heavy rain and destroyed all houses in two communities. Residents in the most ash-affected communities have been evacuated to designated safe zones. Some 112 families (469 persons) from southern Ambae have sought refuge in 10 host communities in the east, whilst 757 families (3,055 persons) from the northern communities are temporarily sheltering in Saint Patrick’s College and Torgil Training Center in the northeast. An undetermined number have voluntarily relocated to Santo, Efate and other nearby islands. (UNICEF, 15 May 2018)
A state of emergency was in effect on the island of Ambae until 13 July as the activity of the Manaro Voui volcano remained unpredictable. On 7 June, the threat level of the Manaro Voui volcano is categorized as “major unrest state”, and was lowered from volcanic alert level three to level two; with the danger zone now limited to a 2 km radius from the active vent. Parts of Ambae Island have been blanketed with ash for weeks, and although volcanic activity has recently decreased, light ashfall continues to be experienced in some northern parts of the island. In previous weeks, the ashfall had increased the risk of landslides, two of which were triggered by heavy rain and destroyed all houses in two affected communities. Residents in the most ash-affected communities left their homes and evacuated to designated safe zones. Some 2,000 residents remain displaced on Ambae living with host communities or in evactuation centres on the island, whilst around 800 people are known to have voluntarily left Ambae relocating to Santo, Efate and other nearby islands (UNICEF, 15 Jun 2018).
As of 10 July, the Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 2 due to its continued and major unrest state. Observations have confirmed that the volcanic activity has been unstable since 20 June. On 1 July, the volcano emitted a column of ash which induced heavy to light ash fall driven by the prevailing trade wind at villages from North-West to West of Ambae Island and the North-Eastern part of Santo Island . A small eruption scale in Lake Voui is continuing. (Gov't of Fiji, 10 Jul 2018)
On 16 July, much of the east and north of Vanuatu's Ambae Island experienced heavy ashfall after the eruption from the volcano intensified, residents said (RNZI, 17 Jul 2018). A second state of emergency was declared by the Government of Vanuatu’s Council of Ministers (COM) from 26 July to 26 September 2018. In addition, an order was made to immediately evacuate all people in Ambae to nearby Maewo island. (UNICEF, 6 Aug 2018)
As of 23 August, Ambae volcano remains in the minor eruption state at Volcanic Alert Level 3. The volcanic activity is likely to remain at the minor eruptive activity or decrease to a major level of unrest at any time. The Danger Zone for life safety is limited at 3 km radius from the active vent and areas located in the Yellow Zone. (Gov't Vanuatu, 23 Aug 2018).
As of 21 September, Ambae volcano is in the major unrest state. The Volcanic Alert Level is lowered to Level 2. The Danger Zone for life safety is now limited at 2 km radius from the active vent and areas located in the Yellow Zone. Observations in September 2018 confirm that the eruptive activity occurred in July until August has dropped. There is no explosions and volcanic cloud emitted are white colour, means only steam. A small scale eruption in Lake Voui has ceased. (Gov't Vanuatu, 21 Sep 2018)