Volcanic ash affects thousands in Temotu - Solomon Star News

Volcanic ash affects thousands in Temotu

27 October 2017
The ash from the Tinakula volcano, covered the nearby islands. [Photo: Luke Lapoe MET officer, Lata]

ABOUT 11,500 people in Temotu province are affected as a result of the continuous eruption of volcanic ash from Tinakula, a report from the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) yesterday revealed.

However, the report stated that the number can be ascertained in the coming days as verification continues.

Reef Islands and the Polynesian outlying island of Tikopia are the most vulnerable.

The second situation report yesterday afternoon stated that the volcanic ash clouds are concentrated on Tinakula Island but are spreading to nearby islands by wind.

The report stated that there is uncertainty about the usage of rain water and bore catchment for household purposes and

It stated that there are reports of diarrhoea, red-eye, skin rash, vomiting and cough in some villages.

 “An Initial Situation Overview (ISO) report has been completed and will be distributed. Outcomes focus on water, health, livelihood, Education and Protection.

“Water bottles are planned to be shipped to affected communities.

“A Geologist is deployed to Temotu to monitor the activity. The Solomon Islands Government Meteorological Aviation warning is also being lifted.

“N-DOC Health committee are activated and currently supporting the response,” it was stated.

The report added that 40 Tonnes of food supply was deployed to Tikopia, Duff and Anuta due to the ongoing food security issues due to the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Donna early this year.

Priority concerns at this stage are water accessibility for drinking and cooking as water quantity will be scarce due to volcanic ash contamination.

About 19 Schools and nine health facilities are located in the exposed areas.

According to the report, the Provincial Disaster Committee has met on Wednesday and a team was set up to verify the initial reports coming from the potential affected areas.

Police in Lata have visited Nupani with minimal findings, a team consisting of police, health and agriculture officers was deployed to Reef Islands and their report on their findings is yet to be circulated.

It was stated that an agriculture team will be deployed to re-assess along with a food relief consignment to respond to the food security issue in Duff, Tikopia and Anuta because of the deteriorating state of food availability due to the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Donna.

In terms of actions coming from the national government level, the National Emergency Operation Centre is activated on standby to support the provincial operation.

“The Melanesian Volcanic Network is being activated to support monitor and provide information to the NDMO and also Development of public awareness material and distributed media outlets and identified focal points in the affected areas.

“N-DOC Health committee is activated and currently support the response through provision of technical advices in regards to health impact of the volcanic ash.

“Procurement and shipment of bottled water for volcanic ash affected villages.

“A relief supply is being deployed to Anuta, Tikopia and Duff Islands to alleviate the current food shortage in the 3 Islands affected by the Tropical Cyclone Donna early this year. The consignment is approximately 40 tons of Rice,” the report said.

It was noted that a Volcanic Technical Assessment will be conducted; a volcanic monitoring to enhance early warning will be established, as well as awareness to the affected communities and by all means, water testing to ascertain the risk of water contamination, and enhance disease surveillance to the affected communities will be conducted to verify reported cases of diarrhoea and other infections to be conducted.

The Tinakula volcano erupted at 10.47am last Saturday according to the Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in New Zealand.

The initial activity was recorded by the Melanesia Volcano Network, the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department at 6.20am last Saturday with ash and gas reaching heights of 35, 000 feet (10.7 kilometres) above sea level.

Meanwhile, Tinakula’s eruption is classed as Category Three, which means a minor eruption.