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Australia and New Zealand intensify their efforts to help tsunami-hit Tonga
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Australia and New Zealand intensify their efforts to help tsunami-hit Tonga

  • NZ and Australia send reconnaissance flights to Tonga
  • Red Cross: The scale of destruction could be enormous
  • UN is on standby to offer assistance
  • Ash clouds from an eruption moving towards NZ, Australia

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON – Monday saw surveillance flights from Australia and New Zealand to assess the damage caused by the tsunami that effected Tonga. The tsunami was caused by an underwater volcano eruption.

Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, promised to support Tonga as soon as possible but stated that the volcano ash had hampered relief efforts.

Morrison said that “there have been a lot challenges there with the Ash cloud and the disruption of communications and so we’re working together to get the most support to Tonga,” Morrison said to radio station 2GB Monday.

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The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia told Reuters via email Monday that there is “no current volcanic activity and the volcano has not been spewing ash”. It stated that the ash that reached Queensland, Australia was from an earlier eruption.

The Minister for the Pacific Zed Sassja of Australia stated that initial reports did not indicate mass casualties. He also said that Tonga’s airport appeared to be in “relatively good condition”, but that there was “significant damage” to roads, bridges, and roads.

Seselja said that Australia was in contact with the United States and New Zealand to coordinate responses.

Peeni, New Zealand’s Defence minister, said at a news conference that power had been restored to large parts of Nuku’alofa. Also, communications have been restored.

After the requirements are determined, the New Zealand Hercules C-130 would be deployed to perform drops of essentials.

A volcano underwater off Tonga erupted Saturday, triggering a tsunami that swept across Tonga and cutting off all internet and phone lines.

Although there are no reports of injuries or deaths in Tonga, communications are still limited and the outlying areas are not being connected.

Satellite images show some islands outlying being submerged.

According to media reports, a woman from the United Kingdom has gone missing after she was washed away.

Angela Glover was with her husband James who owns the Happy Sailor Tattoo at Nuku’alofa. They were going to get their dogs when it hit. TVNZ, the New Zealand state broadcaster, reported that James managed to hold onto one tree, while his wife, who also runs a dog rescue in Nuku’alofa was washed away. Multiple social media posts from friends and family claimed that she was still not found.

Jacinda Adern, New Zealand’s Prime Minster, said that the tsunami had had a significant impact upon infrastructure.

Red Cross stated that it was mobilizing its regional network to respond at the Pacific’s worst volcanic eruptions in decades.

Red Cross has sufficient relief supplies to support 1,200 families with essential items such tarpaulins blankets, blankets kitchen sets, shelter tool kit kits and hygiene kits.

Greenwood said that the agency expects to affect up to 80,000 people by the tsumani

She said, “That’s what we are planning for as the worst case scenario until further confirmation from people on the ground.”

According to the agency, there are concerns that communities might not have safe drinking water due to saltwater inundation from the tsunami waves and ashfall.


The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano has erupted regularly over the past few decades but the impact of Saturday’s eruption was felt was far away as Fiji, New Zealand, the United States and Japan. Due to the tsunami’s powerful waves, two people drowned at a Northern Peru beach.

New Zealand forecaster WeatherWatch stated that volcanic ash clouds have been covering nations thousands of kilometers to the west for 26 hours after the eruption.

Fiji, Vanuatu & New Caledonia are affected. On Monday, the ash cloud will likely spread towards eastern Australia, it said.

Radio New Zealand’s Shane Cronin, a New Zealand-based volcanologist, stated that early data suggests that the eruption was the most powerful since Mount Pinatubo in Philippines 30 years ago.

Cronin stated that “This is an explosion best observed from space.”

Cronin stated that the eruption was the largest since the 1991 eruption at Pinatubo.

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Praveen Menon reports
Editing by Nick Zieminski, Michael Perry

Our Standards The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles

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