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Comoros islanders begin to return home as volcano subsides

© Karthala Volcano Observatory/Soule
Mount Karthala began spewing ash and smoke over the weekend, causing islanders to flee in panic. The eruption has now died down.

By Chris Niles

NEW YORK, 19 April 2005 -  Ten thousand islanders in the Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros, who fled when one of the world’s largest active volcanoes erupted on the weekend, have begun to return home.

The volcano forms most of the landmass of Grand Comore, the largest island among those that make up the small nation, and in recent times has erupted approximately every 11 years. The last eruption was in 1991.

No deaths or injuries have been reported from the weekend’s eruption, although there are fears that the island’s water might be contaminated. Local authorities have warned people to avoid the worst affected areas.

© Karthala Volcano Observatory/Soule
The crater of Mount Karthala, one of the world’s largest active volcanoes.

 “There is now much less ash observed from the crater,” said UNICEF Representative in Comoros Aloys Kamuragiye. “The lava is remaining confined in the crater.”

“We had estimated 10,000 people displaced and now we are observing that most of the displaced people are coming back to their homes,” Dr. Kamuragiye said.

UNICEF has provided logistical and technical support to the Comoros government, along with emergency materials such as health kits and will soon be distributing food supplies.

“We have purchased 10 tons of rice which are now ready for distribution,” said Dr. Kamuragiye. “And we are looking at how to distribute that rice in an effective manner."




20 April 2005:
UNICEF Programme Officer Enrico Leonardi discusses the wider ramifications of the volcanic eruption on the people of Comores.

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19 April 2005:
UNICEF Representative in Comoros Aloys Kamuragiye discusses the volcanic eruption which has displaced thousands of islanders.

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