Int’l aid delivery begins in Tonga following eruption, tsunami

Jan 21 , 2022. 10 hours ago – 23:15 KYODO NEWS

Photo uploaded to the official Facebook page for the Tonga Geological Services on Jan. 14, 2022 shows geologists watching plumes coming from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano. (Kyodo)

SYDNEY – The delivery of international aid to Tonga began Thursday with the arrival of humanitarian supplies from Australia and New Zealand after an undersea volcanic eruption last weekend triggered a tsunami that caused severe damage to the South Pacific island nation.

Aircraft from New Zealand and Australia carrying much needed aid and supplies were finally able to touch down in the capital Nuku’alofa on Thursday afternoon, following the completion of cleanup efforts to remove volcanic ash from the runway of its main airport.

The eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano on Saturday sent tsunami waves across the Pacific, killing at least three people and causing extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure in Tonga.

Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton confirmed the arrival of a Royal Australian Air Force plane carrying supplies Thursday afternoon and said in a Facebook post, “Tonga is a very important member of our Pacific family and we have committed to supporting them however we can,” he said.

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a statement the C-130 Hercules aircraft that arrived from her country is carrying “humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies, including water containers, kits for temporary shelters, generators, hygiene and family kits, and communications equipment.”

An offshore naval patrol vessel sent by New Zealand is also expected to arrive in Tonga later Thursday, carrying hydrographic and dive personnel to survey shipping channels and assess wharf infrastructure. A Seasprite helicopter is onboard to assist with supply delivery, the New Zealand government said.

A second New Zealand ship carrying bulk fresh water supplies and a desalination plant is expected to arrive in Tonga on Friday, according to the statement.