No timeline for Tinakula volcano eruption

NASA astronaut image of Tinakula, Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands

There are no predictions on when the eruption of the Tinakula volcano in Temotu Province will stop.

The volcano sent black ash into nearby communities when it started erupting early Saturday morning, and authorities do not have a scientific way to monitor the situation and determine when it will end, according to Loti Yates, director of the National Disaster Management Office.

“From what we know currently, the danger of the volcano’s impact on Santa Cruz is very small or very limited,” Mr Yates said.

He said ashfall in nearby communities and effects of the ash on civil aviation are the main concerns. An aviation warning was issued on Saturday for the Santa Cruz Islands.

Mr Yates said ashfall is expected to continue for the duration of the eruption.

He advised residents in the area to take steps to minimise the harmful effects of sharp particles in the ash, which can irritate the skin and other parts of the body.

“As much as possible, people need to stay indoors,” he said.

Mr Yates said windows and doors should be closed to prevent ash from coming inside.

He said when outside, people should breathe into a mask or handkerchief and wear protective clothing and glasses.

To protect water supplies, Mr Yates recommended covering water tank inlets and disconnecting gutters and downpipes.

Other precautions include washing vegetables from the garden thoroughly to remove ash, not using air conditioners, and sweeping ashes off roofs to prevent them from collapsing.

Mr Yates said his office plans to collaborate with Lata police on the ground in the area and the Ministry of Health in Lata to raise awareness about how communities should respond to the situation.

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