Overseas Tongans eagerly await news after volcano eruption | News Volcanoes
A volcanic eruption and tsunami disrupted communications with Tonga, leaving the Pacific kingdom isolated.
Overseas Tongans are anxiously awaiting news from loved ones after a powerful volcanic eruption and tsunami severed communications with the kingdom in the southwest Pacific Ocean.
Concerns for the Tongan community of 85,000 in New Zealand were heightened on Monday by news that it could be two weeks before communications are restored following the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption on Saturday .
As well as leaving people in the dark about the whereabouts of loved ones, the lack of internet threatens Tongans who depend on remittances from loved ones abroad.
“I think the worst thing is the blackout and the fact that we don’t know anything,” said Filipo Motulalo, a New Zealand reporter for the Pacific Media Network. “There is no communication,” he added.
“Our house is one of those close to the area that has already been flooded, so we don’t know how much damage there is.”
Shairana Ali, chief executive of Save the Children Fiji, told Al Jazeera from the Fijian capital of Suva that the situation in Tonga was “quite dire”.
“There is an immediate need for food and water as there is heavy ash fall and as a result water sources have been contaminated in most of the islands that have been affected,” he said. she stated.
“We are also concerned about air quality. And our concern is for the children who obviously suffered mental trauma from this once-in-a-lifetime event. »
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said officials had established satellite contact with the country’s high commission in Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, after the eruption triggered a tsunami that swept across the shores of Tonga. Pacific from Japan to the United States and has been heard as far away as Alaska. and Finland.
New Zealand was told no deaths or injuries were reported in the capital, but there was “significant” damage in some areas.
“I would say we are anxious, not fearful,” said Auckland Tongan community secretary Kennedy Maeakafa Fakana’ana’a-ki-Fualu.
“We hope everyone is doing well. We accept that there is a problem with the internet but we hope everything will be fine,” he told AFP news agency.
Fakana’ana’a-ki-Fualu, who organizes the shipment of containers of relief supplies to Tonga, said a cable outage preventing internet access was a serious problem for families who depend on the remittances by the Tongan community in New Zealand.
“It will be a problem and we will have to look for alternatives,” said the community secretary, adding that he expected the Tongan government, with the support of New Zealand and Australia, “will be in able to do something to help”.
Air New Zealand, meanwhile, postponed a repatriation flight to Tonga due to volcanic ash clouds from the eruption.
The flight was due to leave Auckland on Thursday.
“We pray that God helps our country at this sad time. We hope everyone is safe,” Maikeli Atiola, secretary of the Wesleyan Church of Tonga in Auckland, told Radio New Zealand.