Tonga Cut Off By Volcanic Blast, Fears Grow For Coastal Towns
Umer Jamshaid Published January 17, 2022 | 03:05 PM
The Pacific Island nation of Tonga was virtually cut off from the rest of the world Monday, after a massive volcanic blast that crippled communications and stalled emergency relief efforts
Sydney, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 17th Jan, 2022 ) :The Pacific Island nation of Tonga was virtually cut off from the rest of the world Monday, after a massive volcanic blast that crippled communications and stalled emergency relief efforts.
But with phone lines still down and an undersea internet cable cut -- and not expected to be repaired for weeks -- the true toll of the dual eruption-tsunami disaster is not yet known.
Only fragments of information have filtered out via a handful of satellite phones on the islands, home to just over 100,000 people.
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".
And both have put C-130 military transport aircraft on standby to drop emergency supplies or to land if runways are deemed operational and ash clouds allow.
There are initial reports that areas of the west coast may have been badly hit.
They were "able to do an assessment of some of the Western beaches area and there was some pretty significant damage to things like roads and some houses," Seselja said.
"That will be very, very important as the ash cloud clears and we are able to have flights coming into Tonga for humanitarian purposes." Major aid agencies, who 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.