Following the powerful eruption of the underwater volcano in Tonga on Saturday (January 15th), we continue to seek further information. Communicating with our tongas partners remains challenging.
We continue to liaise with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and disaster response agencies on behalf of our members to coordinate a response informed by Tonga’s critical needs.
As we receive further updates, we will update this page.
Here is what we know so far:
- We are aware of a fatality. British woman, Angela Glover. This is a tragedy for her family and our thoughts are with all her loved ones in Tonga and MB.
- Electricity and local mobile phone networks have been restored to Tongatapu. The power connection is not yet stable.
- International and long distance calls are not yet possible due to submarine cable damage. Tonga Cable and other entities are actively working to repair the damage. There is still no timeline for when communications will be restored.
- Tonga Main Airport Fua’amotu International Airport is undamaged, but heavy ash rain is being cleared and is preventing the airport from being fully operational.
- Marina Tongane has reported major damage to the Ha’apai Islands. The height of the waves was 5-10 meters and up to 500 meters inland.
The response of the Tongan government
- The Tongan government will lead the response and they have been in contact with donors in countries like New Zealand to lead the activities.
- The Director of Civil Aviation in Tonga advises that cleaning the airport runway will take days to complete as this is being done manually. The earliest possible cleanup is Wednesday, January 19th.
- The Minister of Labor and Trade has been on the radio to advise the public on the price of government-controlled products as a result of rising prices.
- The government has evacuated people from parts of western Tongatapu due to significant damage.
New Zealand Government Response
- NZDF P3 Orion successfully completed air surveillance yesterday.
- MFAT is working with Digicel and Spark to facilitate the transport of satellite equipment to support communications in the meantime until communications can be fully restored.
- Pre-positioned supplies held on site by CID members like Caritas Aotearoa NZ and Caritas Tonga have been released. These supplies include a water purification unit, cans, toiletries, buckets and water taps.
Other Pacific Island Updates
- Tsunami alerts were issued in neighboring Pacific Islands. However, volcanic ash continues to disrupt some flights.
- In Fiji, the South Lau Group suffered damage after the tsunami. Video footage shows tsunami waves coming roughly 50 meters inland, destroying several homes. An initial damage assessment team (IDA) is scheduled to be deployed via Fiji government-owned naval vessels this week.
- The southern Lau Islands may face water and food shortages, some relocation and housing reconstruction needs, and psychosocial needs. There are also some health concerns related to severe ash fall, however the extent of the ash fall is not yet known.
- CID Press Releases
- “Taking care of our Pacific neighbors” stuff
- Josiah Tualamali’i, a former member of the CID Pacific Restoration Group, wrote “Tonga’s latest tragedy a reminder of NZ’s place in the Pacific”. here in Things
- Pacific Media Network and CID produced a video on how to donate effectively here
- Prayers for donations in cash – not things – in here NZ Herald
- Hercules preparing to remove supplies
Where to donate:
- Please go to CID Website to find out which charities are working with local partners in Tonga in relief efforts. All full CID members comply with the Code which means that the public can be assured that systems are in place so that funds reach the most vulnerable.
- Some CID members have not yet made public their grievances, but so far these six members have planned appeals:
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