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World rushes to help tsunami-hit Tonga as clean water and food run out By Reuters
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World rushes to help tsunami-hit Tonga as clean water and food run out By Reuters
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© Reuters. Members of the Australian Defense Force board the HMAS Adelaide at the Port of Brisbane before it departs for Tonga, in Brisbane, Australia January 20, 2022. Australian Department of Defence/Handout via REUTERS


By Praveen Menon and Kirsty Needham

WELLINGTON/SYDNEY (Reuters) – More ships and planes carrying aid are expected to arrive in Tonga in the coming days as the international community responds to calls for urgent aid from the Pacific island nation following a a devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami.

The first flights from Australia and New Zealand landed in Tonga on Thursday with much-needed water supplies for sanitation and hygiene as well as shelter, communications equipment and generators.

A New Zealand maritime support vessel HMNZS Aotearoa carrying 250,000 liters of water and capable of producing 70,000 liters per day from a desalination plant, is due to arrive in Tonga on Friday.

A second Australian aid flight had to turn back on Thursday due to in-flight problems and is now expected today, the Australian High Commission in Tonga said on Facebook (NASDAQ:).

More help is on the way with HMAS Adelaide en route from Brisbane and expected in Tonga next week, he said.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted with a deafening explosion on Saturday, triggering tsunamis that destroyed villages, resorts and many buildings and cut communications for the nation of around 105,000 people.

Three people were reportedly killed, authorities said.

The ash blanketed the archipelago and spoiled much of its drinking water.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric told a press briefing that Tonga had requested emergency assistance and the agency was in close contact with the authorities.

“Assessment teams have reached most parts of the country, including remote and isolated islands,” Dujarric said.

“We remain seriously concerned about access to drinking water for 50,000 people across the country. Water quality testing continues and most people rely on bottled water,” he said.

Some 60,000 people were affected by damage to crops, livestock and fisheries due to ashfall, saltwater intrusion and the potential for acid rain, Dujarric said.

Fuel shortages have also been reported, he added.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Friday that cash donations to Tonga for immediate humanitarian supplies – Australia donated $1 million – should be followed by more substantial support for the reconstruction.

“The impact of this volcanic eruption and the subsequent tsunami and the damage caused by the flooding will be an ongoing challenge for Tonga, particularly with regard to infrastructure,” she told Australian radio. , adding that New Zealand and Fiji were also working closely with Tonga. .

Telephone links between Tonga and the outside world were restored late Wednesday, although full restoration of internet services is likely to take a month or more.

Tongans took to social media to post images of the tsunami destruction and report fled-safety- 2022-01-20 of their shock after the massive explosion.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said the force of the eruption was estimated to be the equivalent of 5 to 10 megatons of TNT, more than 500 times that of the nuclear bomb the United States dropped on Earth. Japanese city of Hiroshima at the end of World War II.

World rushes to help tsunami-hit Tonga as clean water and food run out By Reuters
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