Saturday, May 21, 2022

Tonga calls for ‘immediate aid’ after volcanic eruption, tsunami

The official says there is an urgent need for drinking water and food, as efforts have begun to assess the scale of the damage.

Tonga is calling for “immediate assistance” with an urgent need for fresh water and food, as it assesses the damage caused by the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Hapai eruption on Saturday.

The volcano erupted on Saturday in a massive eruption – said to be the largest since Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 – triggering a tsunami and blanketing the Pacific island nation in volcanic ash.

“Communications remain down and the full extent of the damage to life and property is currently unknown. What we do know is that Tonga is in urgent need of assistance to provide its citizens with fresh drinking water and food,” said Speaker of Parliament Lord Fakafanua said in a statement shared on social media.

This appeal came after experts detected another eruption at Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Hapai.

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The volcano erupted at 22:10 GMT on Sunday, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center said after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said it had detected large waves in the area: “It could be from another eruption of Tonga volcano. There are no known earthquakes of significant size to generate this wave.”

Australia and New Zealand sent surveillance flights to Tonga on Monday to assess damage and said they were coordinating with the United States, France and other countries on the humanitarian response.

Australia’s Minister of the Pacific Ocean, Jade Cesselja, said initial reports showed there were no casualties and the airport “appears to be in relatively good condition”, but that roads and bridges suffered “significant damage”.

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The Red Cross has offered its assistance and the Pacific Islands Forum said it was ready to assist in what it described as a “once in a millennium natural disaster”.

“We will get a clearer picture of the situation in Tonga and the rest of the Blue Pacific continent in the coming hours and days,” Secretary-General Henry Puna said in a statement.

The effects of Saturday’s eruption were felt across the Pacific, in other island nations such as Fiji, where videos shared on social media recorded the explosive sound of the explosion and in North and South America. A huge cloud of ash is now spreading westwards towards Australia.

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Nation World News Desk
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