Australian Flights Provide Aid to Tonga in Wake of Eruption, Tsunami

by Victoria Santiago
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Three flights from Australia have successfully landed in Tonga, days after a devastating underwater volcano eruption. The flights carried some essential items that the small island nation needs. These include food, water, medical supplies, and telecommunications equipment.

The Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted a week ago today. The country has been dealing with the fallout of the eruption since then. The eruption caused a tsunami, which destroyed boats in New Zealand and caused an oil spill in faraway Peru.

Other countries have also been sending support and supplies. In addition to Australia, New Zealand and Japan have got involved. At first, it was impossible for aid to reach the island nation due to the amount of ash that covered the islands. They successfully cleared the ash from airport runways and planes could arrive. The first plane landed on Thursday (1/20). Zed Seselja, the Australian minister for international development and the Pacific, said that cleanup efforts were going smoothly and that everyone was working together. “Obviously it’s a very, very difficult time for the people of Tonga,” he said. “The feedback on the ground again I got today is many people displaced.”

Tonga Is In Desperate Need of Supplies, Including Clean Water

Australia, the US, and the UK have also sent ships to the island nation to help. The HMAS Adelaide, for example, brought over many different resources. They’ve brought over helicopters, engineers, and even a 40-bed hospital on the Navy ship. Plus, the ship can generate electricity. Best of all, though, is that it can purify water.

The main priority for aid is clean water, however. Ash and saltwater have ruined Tonga’s water supply. On Saturday alone, a Japanese plane brought over three tons of water. That’s just one of multiple planes that Japan has sent.

Thankfully, there haven’t been many deaths due to the eruption. Right now, there have only been three reported in Tonga, and two in Peru. However, UN officials noted that the number of those impacted is much more severe. The volcano has impacted around 84,000 people. They make up about 80% of Tonga’s population. Three of the smaller islands that make up the nation have been badly damaged. The main island had around 50 homes destroyed.

Another pressing issue is reconnecting Tonga with the rest of the world. The disaster severed the nation’s fiberoptic cable. It kept the island nation in contact with the rest of the world. Thus, many people have been unable to get in touch with friends and family. Thankfully, repairs are underway. International calling has been fixed in some areas already.

Outsider.com