Tonga Cut Off By Volcanic Blast
Muhammad Irfan Published January 17, 2022 | 11:10 AM
Sydney, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 17th Jan, 2022 ) :Tonga was virtually cut off from the rest of the world Monday after a massive volcanic blast that crippled communications with the Pacific island nation, and experts warned internet connection may not be fully restored for weeks.
But still neighbouring countries and international agencies are clambering to try to grasp the scale of the damage, with New Zealand's leader Jacinda Ardern stating Sunday it is believed to be "significant".
Wellington and Canberra scrambled reconnaissance planes in an attempt to get a sense of the damage from the air on Monday, with both also putting C-130 military transport aircraft on standby to drop emergency supplies or to land if runways are deemed operational.
What is known is that the volcanic blast Saturday seriously damaged the ash-covered capital Nuku'alofa and severed an undersea communications cable -- which could take two weeks to restore.
"We know water is an immediate need," Ardern told reporters.
She added New Zealand was relying on satellite phones to communicate with the island nation that is home to some 100,000 people.
Wellington's defence minister said he understood the island nation had managed to restore power in "large parts" of the city.
Crippled communications left Tongans outside of the country desperate for news of loved ones.
"Our home is among those close to the area that was flooded already so we don't know how much damage there is." Motulalo said many Tongans abroad were worried.
"I think the worst part is the blackout and the fact that we know nothing," he added. Many fretted about elderly relatives coping in volcanic dust-filled air.
"We're getting sketchy information but it looks like the cable has been cut," he said.
"It could take up to two weeks to get it repaired. The nearest cable-laying vessel is in Port Moresby," he added, referring to the Papua New Guinea capital, more than 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) from Tonga.
Initially it was believed the fault was due to power failure following the powerful eruption.
But further testing once power was restored indicated a break in the cable.