One dead in evacuation center

Schools and community halls are used as evacuation centers. Photo supplied

An old man who was relocated to an evacuation center on west Ambae, following the volcano crisis has died.

The cause of his death is yet to be determined, but a member of the Health Cluster Team has confirmed the death.

A member of the Disaster Working Group at Saratamata confirmed the old man died while in evacuation center but could not give further details.

The elderly people, women, children, the disabled and pregnant women as the most vulnerable group are given the top priority to be evacuated.

Meanwhile, the Director of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), Shadrack Welegtabit, issued an advisory notice yesterday forbidding people to travel to Ambae .

The general public has been told not to visit or travel to Ambae during the state of emergency but , some people still fail to follow advice, an NDMO staff said following the advisory.

Only government officials and partner agencies responding to relief efforts are permitted to travel there, said Director Welegtabit.

"The whole island evacuation is underway now," he said.

"The Vanuatu Mobile Force is on the ground and working with Provincial Authorities to ensure the safety and security of all people and assets.

"General travel to Ambae is now forbidden."

The Council of Ministers (CoM) announced the entire island evacuation  and agreed to stop the movement of people to Ambae.

So far, evacuation is in full swing and should be completed before Friday this week, the deadline given by the CoM, said Director Welegtabit.

Many ship owners were engaged to help in the evacuation.

General individuals, companies, non-government organizations, communities , students associations, churches and donor agencies continue to pour humanitarian assistance for the affected families.

Australia Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, announced Australia's additional support yesterday.

A team of Australian humanitarian and military experts have arrived in Port Vila. Apart from that, a  Royal Australian Navy, HMAS Choules, is expected to reach Vanuatu next week with specialists and supplies to assist with the evacuation as well as a landing craft.

It will join a fleet of ships including ferries and commercial vessels, which have begun moving people to nearby islands.

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