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Power restored and clean-up ongoing in Tonga, 2G established today

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VOEA Ngahau Siliva delivered bottled water to the residents of Mango island on the day of the eruption. Photo: NEMO
VOEA Ngahau Siliva delivered bottled water to the residents of Mango island on the day of the eruption. Photo: NEMO

The latest update from Tonga:

  • The Tonga Government is responding to efforts on the ground. Power has been restored, and clean-up and damage assessments are ongoing. Relief supplies are being distributed by Tongan authorities. Work to clear the airport runway continues and is expected to be completed today.
  • There are 3 confirmed fatalities; a 65-year-old Tongan woman from Mango, a 49-year-old male from Nomuka, and a British national. No further deaths have been reported today.
  • Digicel (international mobile phone network provider) has set up an interim system on Tongatapu using the University of South Pacific’s satellite dish which may allow a 2G connection to be established today. This connection will be limited and patchy, covering about 10 percent of usual capacity and prioritising voice and SMS communications.
  • US cable company SubCom advises it will take at least four weeks for Tonga’s cable connection to be repaired.

Tongan Government Response:

Overnight, the Tongan government issued it’s first official media release since the eruption. Key information includes:

  • Emergency response operations are under way, with initial damage assessments conducted, and relief supplies and health teams deployed to affected areas.
  • Limited communication has been made with Vava’u and Ha’apai. There have been no communications with the Niuas but they are considered low risk. Efforts continue to restore communications.
  • Evacuations have begun from ‘Atata to Tongatapu and from Mango and Fonoifua to Nomuka.
  • Water supplies have been affected by volcanic ash; damage assessments are under way.
  • Challenges to sea and air transportation remain due to damage sustained by wharves and ash covering runways.
  • Domestic and international flights have been deferred until further notice.
  • Volcanic activity and tsunami risk continues to be monitored.
  • The Prime Minister has met with the head of each diplomatic mission in Tonga to discuss their support.
Air Movements personnel stack and secure pallets of disaster relief supplies to be sent to by Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 to Tonga, in the wake of a Tsunami triggered by volcanic eruption.  Photo: NZ Defence Force
Air Movements personnel stack and secure pallets of disaster relief supplies to be sent to by Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 to Tonga, in the wake of a Tsunami triggered by volcanic eruption.  Photo: NZ Defence Force

NZ Government response:

  • ·       All New Zealanders in Tonga are advised to register their details on www.safetravel.govt.nz(external link).
  • ·       Communications links with Tonga continue to be disrupted so New Zealanders may have difficulties contacting their whānau in Tonga at this time. 
  • ·       New Zealanders in Tonga should follow the advice of the local authorities, including any tsunami evacuation orders.
  • ·       If you are a New Zealander and you require consular assistance, or are concerned about a New Zealand citizen in Tonga please contact the New Zealand Consular Emergency line on +64 99 20 20 20.
  • ·       If you are concerned or have lost contact with Tongan citizens who are not New Zealand Citizens, NZ Red Cross has activated their Restoring Family Links system for Tonga – Restoring Family Links: redcross.org.nz(external link) which may help to connect you with loved ones. We encourage you to visit this website and enter your family members’ details.

Advice on giving:

If you’d like more information on on how to give and support the Tongan tsunami relief efforts, updated advice is available at mfat.co.nz

Source: NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

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