Volcano drives islanders away

Thousands of people are being evacuated from their homes in the Pacific island chain of Vanuatu amid fears a major volcano is about to erupt.

Mount Manaro, on the island of Ambae, reportedly began spewing out ash and steam on 27 November and is said to be continually shaking. There are fears that if Manaro did erupt it may also unleash a mud stream from a lake inside its crater.

Vanuatu - a chain of 83 islands - lies just over 2,000km north east of Sydney. Some 2,000 tons of ash a day are reported to be falling round the base of Mount Manaro, reports BBC.

Local volcanologist Douglas Charlie said today the volcano "is one of the most dangerous in the world as it's situated below a lake". Lake Vui, which lies in the crater of Mount Manaro, could have its bottom torn open by the trembling mountain, causing "a gigantic explosion" as the water hits hot volcanic magma or rock inside the &to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/2000/12/19/1540.html' target=_blank>volcano, Charlie said by telephone from Ambae.

The volcanic lake is also being forced up toward the rim, sparking fears of a lahar or mud flow if the lake wall bursts, which could drown the villages that surround the mountain.

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