Ash cover
© John Joemeteo
The alert level for Vanuatu's Ambae volcano has been raised to level three after eruptions and the spewing of ash.

Hundreds of villagers are being evacuated from a volcanic Vanuatu island as thick ash from minor eruptions blanket the island.

The threat level of Manaro volcano on Ambae island was raised from two to three on Saturday by the country's Meteorological and Geo-Hazards Department.

Vanuatu's Red Cross reports several villages have become uninhabitable and the organisation is providing humanitarian assistance.


Villagers on Ambae island have been receiving assistance from the Red Cross.
© John Joemeteo
Villagers on Ambae island have been receiving assistance from the Red Cross.
"We tried to travel to the south today but we have to turn back, because trees are falling, visibility is very very poor, we cannot see far more than two meters," said Vanuatu Red Cross Disaster Management Coordinator Augustin Garae on social media.

"Mass evacuation happening now in the south of Ambae, as the situation is worsening," the Vanuatu Red Cross posted, adding communications infrastructure was failing.

"Two evacuation centre's are now hosting 95 households with a total of 372 population. Yesterday 107 people in the south have fled their homes to Santo (Island) on MV Princes Mary."

The Red Cross said hundreds of more villagers had registered for voluntary evacuation and another boat is due to arrive to help on Thursday to help relocate to a neighbouring island.

"Scientific analyses confirm that the current activity is similar to the volcanic activity of March 2018 with more and sustained emissions of volcanic ashes," the Meteorological and Geo-Hazards department said.

"The Danger Zone for life safety is now limited at a three-kilometre radius from the active vent."

In May the Vanuatu government announced plans to permanently evacuate Ambae's approximate 10,000 inhabitants to other islands.

Ambae erupting on July 25, 2018.
© NASA Aqua/MODIS
Ambae erupting on July 25, 2018.
Volcanic ash has turned day to night on Ambae.
© Vanuatu Red Cross
Volcanic ash has turned day to night on Ambae.