New Zealand and Australia send humanitarian assistance to Tonga | News


The governments of New Zealand and Australia sent missions on Monday to assess the damage caused by a huge underwater volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami that hit Tonga last Saturday.


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The eruption sent a thick layer of ash into the sky, contaminating water supplies, cutting off communications and initially preventing surveillance flights from assessing the extent of the damage.

However, this Monday, flights from New Zealand and Australia were finally able to leave. So far, there were no official reports of injuries or deaths on Sunday night, with communications limited.

Tonga’s cabinet held a crisis meeting on Sunday and asked for assistance, the office of Zed Seselja, Australia’s minister for the Pacific, said.

The flight from Australia will assess damage to critical infrastructure such as roads, ports and power lines and determine the next phase of the response effort.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference on Sunday that no contact had been made with coastal areas beyond the capital Nuku’alofa.

A tweet on Sunday morning indicated that Tonga’s Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said the tsunami warning remained in effect and much of the country had suffered severe damage.

In turn, the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) expressed its concern that Tonga is isolated from the rest of the world, since according to the updates the scale of the devastation could be immense, especially for the outer islands, said the head of the IFRC delegation in the Pacific, Katie Greenwood.

The biggest concern is access to safe and clean drinking water as a result of the saltwater inundation caused by the tsunami waves and the ash fall from the volcanic eruption, as well as shelter for communities, particularly on the coast.

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