As Tonga cleans up from a volcanic eruption, the world is donating and trying to help those affected amid the cleanup efforts.
CNN reported that the Polynesian country’s drinking water is contaminated, and its residents are now homeless. Air quality is poor, and the volcano destroyed crops. The country consists of 170 islands with roughly 100,000 living on them.
Saturday’s Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano explosion reportedly unleashed a force 500 times stronger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.
Fortunately, the Australian Broadcast Company reported that only three people lost their lives during the blast.
Tonga’s Underwater Volcano Erupts With Powerful Force
Since its Jan. 15 explosion and tsunami effects, much of Tonga is cleaning off volcanic ash and drying out from the water.
The International Federation of Red Cross is on several islands and says the need for drinking water is desperate. Another world agency, UNICEF, is shipping supplies from Australia and working with the Tongan government for families with immediate needs.
The Australian and New Zealand governments are also stepping up quickly. Both governments have pledged $1,427,000 in aid to the troubled country. South Korea also pledged $200,000 in aid.
According to the Australian Broadcast Company, Australia’s air force sent two aircraft with supplies, and the HMAS Adelaide was due to leave from Brisbane on Thursday with more stuff.
NPR reported a military plane from New Zealand landed at Tongatapu, the country’s largest island, with relief supplies. Before it could land, officials had to clear the runway by hand. The aircraft carried food, water, generators, and personal hygiene kits. New Zealand has sent two navy vessels carrying additional supplies expected to arrive by the end of the week.
CNN also reported that Tonga’s Olympic flag bearer, Pita Taufatofua, started a GoFundMe account for the rescue efforts. The man told CNN he had not heard from his Tongan father since the eruption.
Rescue supplies are now reaching the country, and tight distribution comes from COVID-19 protocols. The island country has reported only one positive case since the pandemic started. According to reports, 61 percent of the country’s population underwent vaccination protocols.
Tonga May Be Offline For A Month
To make things worse, residents will likely suffer internet disruptions for weeks.
Gizmodo reported that the eruption temporarily caused telephone and other essential communication issues. Now, the undersea fiber-optic cable from neighboring country Fiji is having problems.
The 515-mile cable broke during the tsunami, and a specialized repair ship from Papua New Guinea will take eight days to get to the line for repairs.
The task of finding damage to the cable will be challenging. It involves repair workers shooting a light down on one end of a fiber-optic core and figuring out how long the signal must bounce back. The cable repair ship must also get already busy aid vessels to help.