First Foreign Aid Flights Reach Tonga
Faizan Hashmi Published January 20, 2022 | 01:07 PM
The first humanitarian flights arrived in volcano and tsunami-stricken Tonga Thursday, five days after the dual disaster cut the Pacific kingdom off from the rest of the world
Sydney, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 20th Jan, 2022 ) :The first humanitarian flights arrived in volcano and tsunami-stricken Tonga Thursday, five days after the dual disaster cut the Pacific kingdom off from the rest of the world.
Tonga has been inaccessible since Saturday, when one of the largest volcanic explosions in decades cloaked the nation in a layer of ash, triggered a Pacific-wide tsunami and severed vital undersea communication cables.
"Landed!" said Australia's international development and Pacific minister Zed Seselja, hailing the arrival of a C-17 "carrying much needed humanitarian supplies".
"A second C-17 is now on its way," he added.
Among the equipment on board was said to be a "skid-steer loader with a sweeper" to help keep the runway clear of ash.
New Zealand confirmed its C-130 Hercules has also landed.
"The aircraft is carrying humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies, including water containers, kits for temporary shelters, generators, hygiene and family kits, and communications equipment," New Zealand foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta said.
More than 80 percent of the archipelago's population of 100,000 have been impacted by the disaster, the United Nations has estimated, and initial assessments indicate an urgent need for drinking water.
Tongans worked for days at the airport trying to clear the runway of ash so that much-needed aid could arrive.
The work was painfully slow, with only a few hundred metres being cleared each day.
With the air bridge now open, nations are rushing to get aid in.
But strict Covid protocols that have kept Tonga virtually virus-free mean the delivery of supplies will be "contactless".
New Zealand commander James Gilmour said: "There will be no contact between the New Zealand Defence Force and anyone on the ground."The crew was only expected to be on the ground for 90 minutes.