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Vanuatu volcanic eruption ‘won’t affect Cook Islands’

Thursday 2 February 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Local, National

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Vanuatu volcanic eruption  ‘won’t affect Cook Islands’
A submarine volcano located between the islands of Epi and Paama in Vanuatu was awoken. Ships were re-routed and the Vanuatu was on alert. Dan McGarry Twitter/ 23020109 / 23020111

An active underwater volcano that erupted in Vanuatu this week will not affect the Cook Islands, says the Cook Islands Meteorological Service.

Met Office director Arona Ngari said that although a tsunami was generated, it was more of a “local tsunami” and would have only affected the local areas in Vanuatu.

“For us in the Cook Islands, a tsunami would not be generated due to the number of islands between us and Vanuatu,” he said.

Vanuatu’s East Epi underwater volcano erupted on February 1, and clouds of ash were shot into the sky. Local authorities warned ships and aircraft to avoid the area.

The volcano is 68 kilometres north of the capital Port Vila.

Submarine senior volcano officer Ricardo William said it was 6km east of Epi island, which was north of the main island in Vanuatu, Efate.

“The volcano activity increased a little bit to explosions, that propelled ash to some 100 kilometres that fall around the submarine volcano,” he told RNZ.

People were advised to stay clear of the coast as phreatic explosions could generate small waves. A level one alert was issued for Vanuatu.

The underwater volcano is one of a series of active underwater volcanic cones and a caldera which last erupted in 2004

Meanwhile, Ngari said normally the public would be advised to move away from the coast and to higher grounds if there was a tsunami warning.

“It would be business as usual for us, apart from the (wet) weather generated from the trough close to the Cook Islands.”

According to the Met Office, a trough of low pressure lies over the Southern Cook Islands with more rain expected today.