Tongan authorities began operations on Wednesday to evacuate some 150 people from the Mango and Fonoifua islands, two of the 176 most affected islands in the archipelago after the eruption and tsunami that affected the nation last Saturday.
Volcano eruption and tsunami leave three dead in Tonga
New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta confirmed at a press conference that the Tongan Navy operation is underway and they will take the evacuees to other islands less affected by the natural phenomenon.
“We are aware that there is significant damage to the outer islands. Two of those islands, Mango and Fonoifua, will be evacuated,” the diplomat said.
On Tuesday night, the Government of Tonga issued its first statement after the disaster, as communications were interrupted after the cut of a submarine cable that supplies the internet.
The authorities specified that the tsunami brought waves up to 15 meters high and destroyed all the houses in Mango and only two were left standing in Fonoifua.
So far, three people have been reported dead, including a 65-year-old woman in Mango, in this unprecedented disaster that took place in the Pacific country.
Neighboring governments such as New Zealand and Australia have sent boats with humanitarian aid, which must adhere to the strict protocols against the pandemic in Tonga, a country that has managed to avoid the virus outside its borders.
“They want to keep Covid-19 out of their country. It is a humanitarian mission with different fronts”, explained the New Zealand Foreign Minister.
MEDIA RELEASE: Red Cross is rushing safe drinking water to people across Tonga as water supplies have been disrupted by layers of volcanic ash and salt water that were dumped on the Pacific island nation following last weekend’s eruption and tsunami.
— IFRC Asia Pacific (@IFRCAsiaPacific)
January 19, 2022
A statement from the Red Cross announced that they are providing safe drinking water to people in the country, as the supply was affected by layers of volcanic ash and salt water thrown up by the volcano and tsunami. In addition, emergency teams have been dispatched to Mango, Fonoifua and Namuka.
The Hunga Tonga Ha’apai volcano erupted on Saturday and caused a tsunami that affected several countries with Pacific coasts.