Following the powerful underwater volcano eruption in Tonga on Saturday (Jan. 15), we continue to seek further information. Communications with our Tongan partners remains challenging.
We continue to liaise with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and disaster response agencies on behalf of our members, to coordinate a response that is informed by Tonga's critical needs.
As we receive further updates we will update this page.
Here’s what we know so far:
- We are aware of one fatality. The British woman, Angela Glover. This is a tragedy for her family, and our thoughts are with all her loved ones in Tonga and the UK.
- Electricity and local mobile phone networks have been restored on Tongatapu. Power connection is not yet stable.
- International and inter-island calls are still not possible due to the damage to the undersea cable. Tonga Cable and other entities are actively working to repair the damage. There is still no timeframe available for when communications will be restored.
- Tonga’s main airport Fua’amotu International Airport is undamaged but heavy ashfall is being cleared and inhibits the airport from being fully operational.
- The Tongan Navy has reported major damage in the Ha’apai Islands. Waves were estimated to be 5-10 meters in height and reaching 500 meters inland.
Government of Tonga response
- The Government of Tonga will lead the response and they have been in touch with donors in countries like New Zealand to guide activities.
- The Director of Civil aviation in Tonga advises that the airport runway clearance will take days to complete as this is being conducted manually. The earliest possible clearance is Wednesday 19 January.
- The Minister of Labour and Commerce has been on the radio to advise the public on the price of government controlled products as a result of price gouging.
- The Government has evacuated people from parts of western Tongatapu due to significant damage.
New Zealand Government Response
- The NZDF P3 Orion successfully completed aerial surveillance yesterday.
- MFAT is working with Digicel and Spark to facilitate the transport of satellite equipment to support communications in the interim until communications can be fully restored.
- Pre-positioned supplies held in country by CID members like Caritas Aotearoa NZ and Caritas Tonga have been released. These supplies include a water purification unit, jerry cans, hygiene kits, buckets and water taps.
Other Pacific Island updates
- Tsunami alerts have been cancelled in neighbouring Pacific Island nations. However, volcanic ash continues to disrupt some flights.
- In Fiji, the Southern Lau Group has sustained damage following tsunami waves. Video footage shows tsunami waves coming approximately 50 meters inland, destroying some houses. An Initial Damage Assessment (IDA) team is scheduled to deploy via the Fiji Government owned sea vessels this week.
- The Southern Lau Islands could be be facing water and food scarcity, some displacement and housing rebuild needs and psychosocial needs. There is also some concern regarding health issues relating to heavy ash fall however the extent of ash fall is not yet known.
- CID press releases
- ‘Looking out for our Pacific neighbours’ Stuff
- Josiah Tualamali’i, former member of CID’s Pacific Reset Group, wrote ‘Tonga’s Latest Tragedy a Reminder of NZ’s Place in the Pacific’ here in Stuff
- Pacific Media Network and CID produced a video on how to donate effectively here
- Pleas for cash donations – not stuff - here in NZ Herald
- Hercules preparing to drop supplies
Where to donate:
- Please go to the CID website to find out which aid charities are working with local partners in Tonga on the relief efforts. All full CID members are Code compliant which means that the public can be reassured systems are in place for funds to reach the most vulnerable.
- Some CID members are yet to go public with appeals but so far these six members have planned appeals: