'There's rocks going up, there's lava up there - and it is increasing' - young Kiwi pilot helping the sick, old and disabled to flee Vanuatu volcano


A 22-year-old Kiwi pilot is helping the sick, elderly and disabled evacuate Vanuatu's Ambae island as the Manaro volcano threatens to erupt.

Adam Reid works for an air taxi company in Vanuatu and has been enlisted to help people flee the island as ash and debris continue to pour from the volcano.

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai has ordered the evacuation of the entire island's 11,000 people by October 6.

"There's rocks going up, there's lava up there - and it is increasing," Mr Reid told 1 NEWS.

The Monaro Voui volcano consists of a small island in the middle of a lake in a crater at the top of the mountain.

Evacuation efforts are scaling up on Vanuatu's Ambae island as the Manaro volcano threatens to erupt.
Source: 1 NEWS

Two new vents last week opened up on the slopes and a lava pool became visible from up to 30km away.

"That lake is actually slowly reducing - so the water is being boiled," Mr Reid said.

"There's a lot of volcanic ash in the sky and the wind is blowing it in a certain direction so we're just staying away from that."

Mr Reid said there are few resources to accommodate a mass exodus, but that locals are "doing a really good job themselves" with assistance in the form of food, water and transport.

He yesterday focused on those who needed the most help - hospital patients, the disabled and the elderly.

"It would be good to have a lot more help here but nothing's happening so we've just got to do with what we've got," Mr Reid said.

"About 11,000 people have to leave and I've only just scratched the surface with it - I'm happy to help and just get as many people out as we can."

So far, Mr Reid has ferried about 300 people off the island, conducting 18 flights on the first day without a break, and he expects to ferry another 100 or so today.

"It's pretty crazy ... there's a lot of things going on and the locals are really sad to be leaving their island."

His family in Drury are keeping in touch to make sure he's OK.

"I've had a lot of family and friends who have sent me messages and mum and dad as well have been looking out for me, so I'm getting messages from them every couple of hours."

Manaro Voui remains a significant threat, with boiling mud lahars, poisonous gas, acid rain and lava explosions a possibility.

The New Zealand Government has sent a team of four experts to Vanuatu to help with logistics, as well as offering emergency supplies and funding to assist.

loading error