Communities warned of possible imminent eruption at Lombenben

The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) has warned communities on Ambae of possible imminent eruption at Lombenben volcano, following its recent increased in activity.

Ash from the volcano has began spreading across the island again to villages from northwest to west, and as far as the eastern part of neighboring Santo Island. Volcanic activity has not been stable since last month.

People on Ambae and neighboring islands could hear the volcano's rumbling sound clearly, view volcanic gas plumes and glows over the mountain at night.

The volcano continues to emit steam and volcanic gases and may spark projectiles to nearby surroundings.These are normal activities of a volcano experiencing major unrest stage or alert level 2.                                           

Volcanic ashes and gases (minor) at this alert level may continue to cause nuisance to lives, crops, animals and equipment, said VMGD.

"Alert level 2 is very important in the Volcano Alert Level System. It is the level of transition between the unrest and eruption state.

"Possible eruption could occur at any time", said VMGD.

The last time the volcano erupted, evacuation was ordered for the entire 11,000 population on the island.

Just after repatriation, residents faced another several months of increased activity with widespread ash fall causing significant damage to food supplies, water, shelter and health.

The volcano seems to be in a more stable state in early June before VMGD announced it has observed greater activity lately.

With the current situation, VMGD said that the possibility of the volcanic activity increasing to the level of minor eruption is low to moderate. 

Visitors and villagers are warned to stay away from the volcano to avoid volcanic bombs, dangerous gas and ashes.

The VMGD states: "The presence of ash that has fallen on Ambae will continue to change the behavior of streams and creeks when it rains.

"Creeks and streams can produce flood and carry a lot more debris. Landslides may occur at some areas during heavy rainfall".

The current activity is occurring in the summit crater (Lake Voui) and there are no indications of activity happening elsewhere on the island.

Vanuatu has six active volcanoes and all are experiencing unrest.

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