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Desalination plant to volcano-affected Vanuatu

NATIONAL OFFICE
www.redcross.org.nz
MEDIA RELEASE 23 December 2005

Red Cross to airlift water desalination plant to volcano-affected Vanuatu tomorrow

New Zealand Red Cross will send a water desalination plant to Vanuatu, where water supply has become a major issue since the Mt Ambae volcano erupted on November 27.

Operations manager Andrew McKie says that most of the water supplies have been contaminated by ash, and people have been evacuated to safe centres around the island where water is hard to source.

“Water is more of a concern than the actual volcano at present, especially as it is not clear when the people affected will be able to return to their homes from the safe centres. Two thirds of the island have been evacuated from their homes,” Mr McKie says.

The desalination plant produces 1,520 litres a day, enough for approximately 500 people, and will be flown out from Auckland on the next available flight.

New Zealand Red Cross water and sanitation delegate Victoria Fray has been in Vanuatu since December 10, and will be responsible for setting up the desalination plant.

Ms Fray will then train a local person to manage the desalination plant until the end of the emergency period, when the plant will return to New Zealand to be available for deployment to other Pacific islands.

Communication is also an issue on Ambae Island, and New Zealand Red Cross will send two more satellite phones to Vanuatu Red Cross to enhance coordination between agencies working in the area.

ends

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