Planes, ships, barges: the DIY evacuation of Vanuatu’s volcano island

Eruption threat means all 11,000 people of Ambae in the Pacific need to leave – and with sparse official help, they are getting off any way they can

Vanuatu is no stranger to the rumblings, shakings, flood waters and wrecking winds of natural disaster. The south Pacific island nation was rated the most at-risk country in the world in a 2016 United Nations study. Its 83 islands are stuck right in the middle of hurricane alley and they dot the border of the “ring of fire” – a belt around the Pacific prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Despite their precarious situation being a day-to-day reality, the country has been galvanised by the prime minister Charlot Salwai’s order to evacuate the entire island of Ambae because of the threat that the volcano at its centre will blow.

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