WELLINGTON, New Zealand – The 11,000 residents of a Vanuatu island who were evacuated from an erupting volcano will likely need to wait at least another two weeks before they can return home.
Government ministers have decided to extend a state of emergency on Ambae island until Oct. 24 even though the Manaro volcano has stabilized.
All the island’s residents were moved by boats to surrounding islands in the Pacific archipelago in an evacuation effort that ended last week.
Government spokesman Hilaire Bule said Wednesday that officials need the extra time to check the island’s water supplies and sanitation and to plan an orderly resettlement.
Officials have downgraded the volcano’s activity to Level 3 on a scale in which Level 5 represents a major eruption. The volcano was at Level 4 during the evacuation.