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Damage in tsunami-hit Tonga hampering relief efforts

Damage in tsunami-hit Tonga hampering relief efforts

Significant damage was reported along the western coast of Tonga’s main island and outer islands on Tuesday following a massive volcanic eruption and tsunami, but a closed airport and downed communications are hampering international relief efforts.

The New Zealand High Commission reported that there was damage along the western coasts of Tongatapu’s main islands. This area is home to many vacation resorts and the waterfront of Nuku’alofa. The owners of the Haatafu Beach Resort located on the Hihifo Peninsula, 21 km (13 mile) west Nukualofa, stated that it was “completely destroyed”.

Tongan officials are planning to evacuate people from outer islands, where “they’re trying very hard, we understand, with many homes being destroyed by the tsunami.” Australia’s Minister for Pacific Zed Seselja stated that Tongan officials were working with Tongan officials. The eruption of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano, which sits on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean and was heard some 2,300 kms (1,430 miles) away in New Zealand.

The South Pacific archipelago remains largely cut off to the rest of the world after the eruption cut its main underwater communications cable. The entire island is covered in ash, according to the High Commission. It also stated that it was working to establish communication with smaller islands as a priority.

British national Angela Glover, 50, was killed in the tsunami as she tried to rescue the dogs she looked after at a rescue shelter, her brother said, the first known death from the disaster. Although there are no reports of injuries or deaths, internet and telephone communications remain extremely limited and cut off in outlying areas.

Seselja stated that while we don’t have any additional information that would suggest… serious casualties, but information is still very patchy. “The priority now is to get supplies to Tonga. The airport is the greatest constraint at the moment. He said that there is still significant amounts of ash.

He stated that Wednesday was more likely for the airport to open. Curtis Tu’ihalangingie (Tonga’s deputy chief of mission in Australia) stated that Tonga was worried about aid deliveries spreading COVID-19 to a COVID free nation.

Tu’ihalangingie, who spoke to Reuters by phone, said that he did not want to bring in a second wave – a tsunami triggered by COVID-19. He urged the public not to wait for a disaster aid fund to help. Tonga’s aid would need to be quarantined and no foreign personnel would be allowed onboard aircraft.

Red Cross announced that it was mobilizing its network in response to the Pacific’s worst volcanic eruption in decades. Alexander Matheou is the Red Cross’ Asia Pacific director. He stated that water purification, shelter, and reuniting family members were the top priorities.

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DISTRESS SIGNAL: The United Nations reported that a distress signal had been detected in an isolated, lowlying Ha’apai island group. It also said it was concerned about Fonoi islands and Mango islands. According to the Tonga government 36 people live on Mango while 69 live on Fonoi.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), posted a satellite image that showed damage to numerous structures on Nomuka Island. OCHA reported that there was no evidence of further volcanic activity, but noted that minor injuries were being reported and that formal assessments, particularly of the outer islands had yet to be made.

Fiji, New Zealand and the United States felt the effects of the massive eruption as far as Japan, Fiji, New Zealand and the United States. Two people were swept away by the tsunami’s waves on a Peru beach. Japanese officials reported that there had been several evacuations. The island of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai all but disappeared following the blast, according to satellite images from around 12 hours later, making it difficult for volcanologists to monitor ongoing activity. Experts stated that the volcano, last active in 2014, had been erupting for about a month prior to Saturday’s eruption.

(This story is not edited by Devdiscourse staff.

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