Tonga: Pictures emerge as volcano-hit islands remain cut off

Tonga underwater volcanic eruption that triggered tsunami captured by space satellite

New footage of the devastation in Tonga are emerging as telecommunication bosses say the islands could be cut off from the world for weeks, after an underwater volcanic eruption left the country covered in ash.

Fears of a possible humanitarian crisis developing in Tonga are growing as details of the damage of Saturday’s volcano are learned.

The underwater eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai volcano sparked a tsunami and severed an undersea cable, cutting off the country’s communication with the outside world.

Samiuela Fonua, the chairperson of the state-owned Tonga Cable Ltd which owns and operates the cable, told the Guardian that repair operations to fix the damage could take two weeks but warned of the threat of continuing volcanic activity to efforts, which would need to enter the Tongatapu waters close to the site of the eruption.

New Zealand and Australia have conducted surveillance flights to assess the damage with images revealing Tonga covered in a blanket of ash which has hampered relief efforts as the nation’s airport runways are also compromised.

New Zealand’s Acting High Commissioner to Tonga, Peter Lund, said the local government had declared a state of emergency.


Husband of charity worker who died in Tonga tsunami is ‘guilt-ridden’

The husband of a charity worker who died in the Tonga tsunami is “guilt-ridden” over the tragedy, his wife’s family have said.

Angela Glover, a 50-year-old animal charity worker from Brighton, died trying to save her dogs after an underwater volcano erupted near the Pacific island on Saturday.

Her brother, Nick Eleini, said he managed to speak to Ms. Glover’s surviving husband, James Glover, on Monday evening after her body was found.

The island is still facing communication issues after an underwater cable was severed during the natural disaster.

Mr Eleini told BBC Breakfast: “I was able to speak to James last night. He’s been able to communicate with us via satellite phone from the British Embassy. He’s safe, he has all his basic needs covered, he has shelter, food, water and money.

“I don’t believe he sustained any serious injuries. He is naturally just shattered and guilt-ridden as to the events that took place. He’s quite naturally blaming himself for not being able to save Angela.

“It doesn’t matter how many times we tell him he has nothing to reproach himself for. He is carrying an incredible burden of guilt at the moment.”

Mr Eleini said Mr Glover told him the full extent of the damage to the island is going to be “quite apparent” in the coming days.

“I think there is going to be a major humanitarian disaster unfolding there. I hope not, but there’s a lot of outlying islands in Tonga that haven’t been reached that people still need to get to,” he said.

“As far as the main island where James and Angela were living, I believe is quite flat, so the wave from the tsunami would have extended quite a way over the land, particularly on that north and west coast.

“A lot of the infrastructure is above ground; that has probably been completely destroyed.”

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 11:05


Two women drown on Peru beach after Tonga volcanic eruption 10,000 km away

Two women have died in Peru after an underwater volcanic eruption off Tonga, more than 10,000km away, caused high waves which ‘swept them away’.

The women were identified as 46-year-old Heyner Quiroz and 23-year-old Wendy Altamirano, who “were surprised by successive waves” that pulled and drowned them on Naylamp beach in Lambayeque, northern Peru.

The bodies were found by officers from the Naylamp beach police station, the police said on Twitter.

The eruption of underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai off Tonga prompted tsunami warnings around the Pacific, which were later receded on Sunday.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar has the full story:

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 10:40


Body found in search of British woman missing in Tonga

A body has been found in the search for a British woman living in Tonga following the tsunami that hit the country on Saturday, her brother has told The Independent.

Angela Glover, 50, was separated from her husband, James, when the tsunami caused by an underwater volcanic eruption hit their coastal home in the low-lying Veitongo area of the country.

Mr Glover was able to hold on to a tree, but Ms Glover and their dogs were reportedly swept away. Her brother, Nick Eleini, has now told The Independent that a body has been discovered in the search for the animal charity worker.

Holly Bancroft has the full story:

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 10:15


Lizz Truss shares support for Tonga after natural disaster

Liz Truss, the UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, has said Britain is working closely with Tonga authorities to support in the aftermath of the disaster.

She said the UK “stands ready to help the recovery effort” in a Tweet posted on 17th January, 2022.

She described the event as an “appalling devastation and loss of life”.

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 10:01


Experts predict Tonga eruption impact on environment and communities

As governments and aid agencies prepare to offer support to Tonga following the volcanic eruption and subsequent tsumani, experts have commented on the potential impacts of the natural disaster to New Zealand’s Science Media Centre.

Doctors and professors from the School of Psychology in Massey University, New Zealand said: “Emerging impacts from the tsunami and volcanic eruption will include impacts to physical and mental health, exacerbation of disparities, secondary impacts, and negative economic consequences. These recent events are nested in the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and climate change.

In a joint statement by Associate Professor Siautu Alefaio, Dr. Maureen Mooney, Professor David Johnston and Associate Professor Julia Becker, they added: “Evidence from previous disaster research suggests that psychosocial needs are immediate and are likely to continue long term.

“Psychosocial recovery plans and interventions need, as much as possible, to be culturally relevant and evidence informed, flexible enough to stay relevant to the evolving context, address disparities, and adapt to and reflect different cultural and community contexts. It is clear, also that successful recovery will require strong community mobilisation, engagement, and participation.

“Past events have shown how the Tongan diaspora will also provide long-term support for recovery, as it’s based on familial ties, and evidence of remittances reveals this. Community recovery is about regeneration.

“For Pacific nations this is achieved through faith, family and church-village mobilisation. The Pacific diaspora has and will continue to lead sustainable recovery efforts with the right supports.”

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 09:40


Tonga volcano eruption that triggered tsunami captured by satellite

The volcanic eruption in Tonga that triggered the tsunami was spotted from space in satellite footage.

The footage, recorded by an Earth-orbiting satellite, shows the moment the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano erupted in the South Pacific sea.

According to local officials, the blast had a radius of 260 km and sent ash, steam and gas 20 kilometers into the surrounding air. It was also around seven times more powerful than a previous eruption on 20 December, 2021.

Huge volcano eruption that triggered tsunami captured by satellite

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 09:24


UN humanitarian teams working on offering support to Tonga

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with other UN agencies and partners are working on supporting Tonga amidst crises caused by the volcanic eruption.

Staff based in Tonga are assisting with immediate response efforts, with the Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) convened in Suva, Fiji today to discuss challenges and next steps.

Communications, logistics and water sanitation were top priorities for assisting humanitarian teams.

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 08:59


Tongan diaspora share fears for loved ones

Members of the Tongan diaspora have shared their fears and concerns for loved ones who they have been unable to contact since the volcanic eruption.

Seini Taumoepeau, a Tongan-Australian artists and activist living in Sydney, told The Guardian she has barely slept since Saturday and fears for her uncle who is disabled and lives in Tongatapu.

She said: “We weren’t able to contact him… I’m in contact with him every day via Messenger, not only because he’s a disabled person but also because my parents have already passed, so he’s my parent.”

For the roughly 15,000 Tongan-Australians and more than 80,000 Tongans in New Zealand, the distressing wait for news on their loved ones continues.

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 08:40


Scale of volcano damage on communities emerging

Buildings and green vegetation in Tongatapu are visibly darkened by ash deposits following Saturday’s eruption.

Thomas Kingsley18 January 2022 08:14


Images show a ‘blanket of ash’ covering the island

Surveillance images from the New Zealand Defence Force have shown a ‘blanket of ash’ covering Tonga as details of the damage begin to emerge.

Aid agencies have warned that volcanic dust and the tsunami may have contaminated Tonga’s water supplies while New Zealand foreign affairs minister Nanaia Mahuta added that “water is among the highest priorities for Tonga at this stage”.

(New Zealand Defense Force)

Thomas Kingsley18 January 2022 08:11

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