Tonga’s neighbors send aid after volcanic eruption

Status: 01/17/2022 03:06 a.m

After the eruption of a volcano in Tonga, the neighboring countries of Australia and New Zealand launched the first aid flights. Communication with the island state is still disrupted. But there are first reports of major damage.

Australian and New Zealand Air Force aircraft have made their way to Tonga to provide assistance after the massive volcanic eruption off the island’s coast. So far, a huge ash cloud had prevented the military from starting flights to the Pacific island nation. According to official information, the aircraft should primarily provide aerial photographs of the more remote islands of the Pacific state and provide information about damage.

Another plane should bring urgently needed drinking water and other relief supplies to Tonga, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference. If the machine cannot land due to damaged runways, the charge will be dropped from the air.

Tonga like a lunar landscape

There was significant damage to boats and businesses along the coast of Tonga, Ardern said. The capital, Nuku’alofa, is covered by a thick layer of volcanic dust, which pollutes water supplies and makes fresh water supplies vital. In addition to the neighboring countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN children’s fund Unicef ​​also announced aid.

The people of Tonga described their land as a lunar landscape after Saturday’s eruption. They began cleaning up after the tsunami waves and the volcanic ash fall.

Repair of communications can take weeks

Communication with the island nation is further restricted. As a result of the seaquake, an important undersea cable was also severed, meaning that the Internet in Tonga went down. Southern Cross Cable Network director Dean Veverka told AFP: “It could take up to two weeks to fix.” The nearest cable-laying ship is in Papua New Guinea, thousands of kilometers away.

The other communication links were also disrupted, but mobile phones seemed to be working at least partially. “Communications with Tonga remain very limited and I know this is a major concern for the Tongan community here,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern.

According to Australian information, the death toll is low. This is evident from the first reports, said Pacific Minister Zed Seselja. The airport also appears to be in relatively good condition. However, there is significant damage to roads and bridges. Tonga has around 170 islands, 36 of which are uninhabited.

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Another “big eruption”

Meanwhile, a monitoring station in Australia has identified another “big eruption”. The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center said the latest eruption was registered on Sunday evening. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also reported that it had detected large waves in the area: “This could be caused by another explosion from the Tonga volcano.” “There are no known earthquakes of any significant magnitude that could generate this wave,” it said.

Volcanic eruption triggers tidal wave

The eruption of the submarine volcano Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai on Saturday was heard thousands of kilometers away, triggering tidal waves and putting many Pacific countries on alert. Tsunami waves were recorded not only in Tonga, but also in New Zealand, Alaska and South America. Boats capsized in some ports. In Japan, after the tsunami warning, around 210,000 residents were asked to get to safety.

The volcanic eruption also had consequences in New Zealand: in the port of Tutukaka, several boats were damaged by the tidal waves.

Image: dpa

Ash clouds spread

Aid organizations warned of health damage from the huge ash clouds and advised Tonga residents to wear masks and only drink bottled water. According to the authorities, ash also fell over parts of Fiji, around 600 kilometers from the volcano, and the ash clouds have now even reached Australia’s east coast. Weather Watch New Zealand said the cloud was moving west across Queensland and would cover much of the state later in the day.

After volcanic eruption in Tonga – unrest also in Japan

Kathrin Erdmann, ARD Tokyo, 16.1.2022 5:58 a.m

Reference-www.tagesschau.de

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