'Extensive Damage' In Tsunami-struck Tonga
Sumaira FH Published January 18, 2022 | 08:50 AM
Wellington, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 18th Jan, 2022 ) :Aid agencies reported "extensive damage" in the Pacific island nation of Tonga on Tuesday following a massive underwater volcanic blast and tsunami, as the first death from the disaster was confirmed.
Early indications of the scale of the crisis on the virtually cut-off island kingdom were emerging through patchy satellite phone contact with Tonga, surveillance flights and satellite images, three days after the volcanic eruption.
OCHA also reported "extensive damage" on the western beaches of the main island Tongatapu, "with several resorts and/or houses destroyed and/or badly damaged".
Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa was blanketed in two centimetres of volcanic ash and dust, it said. Power had been restored to parts of the capital. Local phones systems had been restored but international communications were severed.
Satellite images released by the United Nations Satellite Centre showed the impact of the eruption and tsunami on the tiny island of Nomuka, one of the closest to the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano.
The satellite centre said of 104 structures analysed in the cloud-free area, 41 structures were identified as damaged and almost all were covered with ash.
Australia said the ash must be cleared before it can land a C-130 military plane with aid.
The human toll remains largely unknown.
The first confirmed death was Angela Glover, a 50-year-old who ran a stray animals charity and was reported missing by her husband after the tsunami hit.
"James was able to cling on to a tree for quite a long time, but Angela was unable to do so and was washed away with the dogs," he told The Guardian newspaper.
Tonga's worried neighbours are still scrambling to grasp the scale of the damage, which New Zealand's leader Jacinda Ardern said was believed to be "significant".
Australia's international development minister, Zed Seselja, said a small contingent of Australian police stationed in Tonga had delivered a "pretty concerning" initial evaluation of the western beaches area.
Major aid agencies, which would usually rush in to provide emergency humanitarian relief, said they were stuck in a holding pattern, unable to contact local staff.
"From what little updates we have, the scale of the devastation could be immense -- especially for outlying islands," said Katie Greenwood, IFRC's Pacific Head of Delegation.
Saturday's volcanic blast was one the largest recorded in decades, erupting 30 kilometres (about 19 miles) into the air and depositing ash, gas and acid rain across a swathe of the Pacific.