Home LATEST NEWS First emergency aid planes en route to Tonga

First emergency aid planes en route to Tonga

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These two Australian and New Zealand military planes, with humanitarian aid and telecommunications equipment on board, are to land at the airport of the small Pacific nation, hit by a disaster. unprecedented, according to the government of Tonga.

The runway on the main island of Tongatapu was cleared on Wednesday of the five to ten centimeter thick layer of volcanic ash that covered it and made it unusable until now.

A device C17 Globemaster departed Amberley Air Force Base in Australiah”,”text”:”around 7am”}}’>around 7 a.m. Thursday, announced to theFrance Media Agency an Australian defense official. A second Australian plane is also due to take off later in the day.

New Zealand, for its part, announced that a Hercules C-130 military aircraft was also on its way to the Pacific archipelago.

Help will also arrive by sea: the ship HMAS Adelaide, from the Australian fleet, is about to set sail for Tonga with relief equipment on board.

It is hope and intention from Canberra that the boat leaves on Friday, an Australian defense official said.

He will bring water purification equipment and additional humanitarian supplies, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday. Two Chinook heavy-lift helicopters were also loaded onto the ship.

A military helicopter.

In this photo provided by the Australian Defense Force, HMAS Adelaide embarks Chinook heavy lift helicopters to deliver humanitarian aid to the Tonga government.

Photo: Associated Press/LSIS David Cox

Two New Zealand vessels, HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Aotearoa, carrying drinking water and a desalination unit capable of supplying 70,000 liters per day, also left for the archipelago.

China also announced the dispatch of basic necessities.

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About 84,000 people, more than 80 percent of the population of the Tonga islands, have been affected by the eruption of the Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano and the ensuing tsunami, the government said on Wednesday.United Nations specifying that evacuations of particularly affected islands were in progress.

Among the most urgent humanitarian needs are drinking water and food, in addition to the restoration of telephone and Internet connections, said the spokesman of theUnited Nations, Stephane Dujarric.

Three people were killed and others injured when the Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted on Jan. 15, triggering a tsunami that destroyed homes and flooded.

Disaster unprecedented

The government of Tonga called this disaster a unprecedented, stating that waves reaching up to 15 meters in height destroyed all homes on some islands.

The volcanic eruption, heard as far away as Alaska (United States), located more than 9000 km away, was the largest recorded in decades – a huge smoke mushroom 30 km high, which dispersed ash , gas and acid rain on the 170 islands of the archipelago.

Eruption of a volcano.

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai submarine volcano off the coast of Tonga, January 14, 2022.

Photo: Reuters/Tonga Geological Survey

Tonga’s water supplies were badly contaminated by ash and salt water from the tsunamisaid Katie Greenwood of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

She added that there is a high risk of diseases such as cholera and diarrhea.

Tonga’s food reserves may not be sufficient.

In tears, the President of the National Assembly Fatafehi ​​Fakafanua, affirmed that all agriculture is ruined.

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It’s very sad to hear, so in addition to the water we need in Tonga, it looks like we’re going to be facing a food shortage, he told the Pacific Media Network.

satellite image

Satellite image of the volcanic eruption in Tonga taken by a Japanese meteorological agency, Saturday January 15, 2022.

Photo: AP

This eruption caused a huge pressure wave that swept across the planet, traveling at a supersonic speed of around 1,231 kilometers per hour, according to New Zealand’s National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research.

This led to the rupture of the communications cable linking the archipelago to the Internet network. Tonga is now cut off from the world.

It will take at least four weeks for Tonga’s connection to be restored by US cable company SubCom. The latter explained that the cable seems to be cut in two places: a first 37 kilometers offshore and a second near the volcano, which makes repairs difficult.

The Red Cross reached its team in Tonga by satellite phone on Wednesday, for the first time since the disaster. The organization sent an emergency team to the badly affected islands of Mango, Fonoifua and Namuka.

The village on Mango Island, where an emergency beacon was triggered earlier this week, was completely destroyed. In several villages, only a few houses remained standing.

A 65-year-old woman in Mango is one of three people confirmed dead, along with a 49-year-old man and British national Angela Glover.

Satellite images from Maxar Technologies show a large expanse of water where much of the volcano rose above the sea before the eruption. Only two relatively small volcanic islands remain emerged.

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