Right on the islands, which were covered by volcanic ash from the eruption, a 50-year-old British woman who ran a dog shelter in her town in Nuku’alofa died.
The dead woman’s brother confirmed to Sky News that her husband found the body. She was reportedly swept away by a tidal wave trying to save the dogs. The British Foreign Office previously reported her missing. The couple lived on the archipelago for several years.
Australia and New Zealand have sent observation planes to the isolated archipelago to assess the extent of the damage. Curtis Tu’ihalangingie, a diplomat from Tonga’s Australian embassy, called on the world to be patient as the government decides on priorities to help the affected country.
Fear of covid
Tonga fears that aid for people affected by the earthquake could bring the covid to the islands, which is not yet spreading. “We don’t want another tsunami to hit us – this time Covid-19,” the diplomat told Reuters.
He warned that all aid to the islands would have to go through quarantine and that it was likely that no one would be allowed to disembark the aircraft.
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai submarine erupted early CET on Saturday morning. According to satellite images, a huge cloud of ash, steam and volcanic gases then rose to a height of about twenty kilometers. The eruption lasted eight minutes and was so loud that it was described as a distant rumble by the inhabitants of Fiji, eight hundred kilometers away.
Tonga Pita Taufatofua, a three-time Olympic flag bearer, has set up a fundraiser to help his homeland. He monitors the situation from Australia, where he trains. “The first reports of the damage were catastrophic and all communication with Tonga died down,” he wrote on Twitter. He plans to devote selected funds to help those in need, repair infrastructure, schools and hospitals.
The volcano caused floods elsewhere
The tsunami caused by the explosion hit the coasts of Tonga, Fiji or American Samoa, as well as Japan, Chile and the United States. It has caused local floods in many places. Two people drowned in Peru.
As a result of the explosion, an important submarine cable was cut, which caused the Internet to fail. During the eruption, the telephone connection was also interrupted, which has already been restored.
The biggest concern now is the volcanic ash that people inhale and can contaminate drinking water. “Most people do not realize that the ashes are toxic and that they should not breathe. Everyone should wear veils and respirators, “Tu’ihalangingie added.