Three dead and all homes destroyed on one island in Tonga, government says – live

Three dead and all homes destroyed on one island in Tonga, government says -  live
Relief efforts by Australia and New Zealand are hampered by heavy ash across the country’s airport runways and little communication


Tonga underwater volcanic eruption that triggered tsunami captured by space satellite

Three people are confirmed dead in Tonga – including one British national – and all homes on one island have been destroyed, says the government after an underwater volcanic eruption and tsunami on Saturday devastated the Polynesian country.

Telecommunication bosses say the islands could be cut off from the world for weeks, after an undersea cable was severed and the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai volcano left the country covered in ash.

Fears of a possible humanitarian crisis developing in Tonga are growing as details of the damage of Saturday’s natural disaster are learned.

Samiuela Fonua, the chairperson of the state-owned Tonga Cable Ltd which owns and operates the cable, told the Guardian that repair operations to fix the damage could take two weeks but warned of the threat of continuing volcanic activity to efforts, which would need to enter the Tongatapu waters close to the site of the eruption.

New Zealand and Australia have conducted surveillance flights to assess the damage with images revealing Tonga covered in a blanket of ash, hampering relief efforts as the nation’s airport runways are also compromised.

New Zealand’s Acting High Commissioner to Tonga, Peter Lund, said the local government had declared a state of emergency.


Tongan Olympian unable to contact family since tsunami

Tongan Olympian athlete, Pita Taufatofua, has not been able to contact his family since the tsunami struck the county.

Mr Taufatofua, a dual-sport athlete in taekwondo and cross-country skiing, is among many who have not been able to contact their loved ones in Tongo since communication to the country was lost following the volcanic eruption.

On Twitter on January 15, he said: “No word from my Father or Family in Haapai. All communication in Tonga is out.”

<p>Pita Taufatofua, pictured on the right leading the Tongan team out during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, has been unable to contact his loved ones since the natural disaster. </p>

Pita Taufatofua, pictured on the right leading the Tongan team out during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, has been unable to contact his loved ones since the natural disaster.

In a later Tweet, he said: “Many Tongans around the World are in the exact same situation as me, thinking of and unable to contact their family in the islands. My situation is not unique.”

Mr Taufatofua, who currently lives in Brisbane, Australia, has still not able to speak with his father – who he says is the Governor of Ha’apai, a group of Tongan islands – or other family members.

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 14:15

Tonga’s volcanic eruption could harm environment for years, scientists say

The impact of Tonga’s volcanic eruption could harm local coral reefs, fisheries and coastlines for years to come, scientists say.

Since the initial eruption on January 15, the volcano has been releasing fumes of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide which could result in acid rain when they make contact with water and oxygen in the atmosphere.

“There is likely to be acid rain around Tonga for a while to come” due to Tonga’s tropical climate, said volcanologist Shane Cronin at the University of Auckland to Reuters.

Acid rain can cause widespread damage to crops, potentially ruining Tongan staples like taro, corn, bananas and garden vegetables.

In the ocean, the ash from the volcanic eruption could be toxic to sea and marine life.

Corals and coastlines could also be impacted, as the blast causes more damaging iron to be released into the water and the subsequent tsunami erodes coastlines.

This is particularly concerning for Tonga, where climate change is driving sea levels to rise by about six millimeters per year — double the global average, according to Reuters.

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 13:50

Hundreds of Bitcoin donations made for Tonga relief funds

Hundreds of Bitcoin donations have been made to a Tonga relief fund set up to aid recovery efforts following the natural disaster.

Tongan politician and crypto-currency advocate, Lord Fusitu’a, set up the fund and the BTC wallet has received more than $40,000 through 250 separate donations within three days of going live.

Anthony Cuthbertson has the full story:

Tonga receives hundreds of bitcoin donations after volcano devastation

More than $40,000 already raised by Tongan politician and crypto advocate Lord Fusitu’a

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 13:15

China to donate $100,000 to Tonga relief effort

A spokesperson for China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, has sent condolences to the government and people of Tonga, and said the Red Cross Society of China will donate $100,000 of humanitarian aid to the country.

They said: “We will offer assistance to the best of our capacity based on the situation and the needs of Tonga.”

The country’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, also said: “We’re ready to help the Tonga government & people overcome this disaster and rebuild their homeland to the best of our capabilities.”

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 13:03

Tonga government release first official statement after disaster, confirming three casualties

The government of Tonga have released their first official statement after the volcanic eruption and tsunami that devastated the country.

The government confirmed three casualties, including 50-year-old British national, Angela Glover, a 65-year-old woman from Mango island and a 49-year-old man from Nomuka island. A number of injuries have also been reported.

Emergency help teams are prioritising aid to the islands of Mango, Nomuka and Fonoifua as all reportedly suffered severe damage, with all homes on Mango island destroyed and just two remaining on Fonoifua.

The country also reported severe disruption to its domestic and international communication and internet services, due to the severing of an underwater cable. As of January 18, some communication has been made with the islands of Vava’u and Ha’apai and domestic calls are operating within Tongatapu and ‘Eua islands.

Evacuation processes are underway on affected islands, and challenges to sea and air travel remain due to the extent of the blast’s damage.

They said: “Even though the tsunami warning has been cancelled and volcanic activity has significantly decreased, monitoring efforts continue.”

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 11:56

Fears of Covid-19 arriving in Tonga arise as aid efforts begin

As local and international aid efforts to support Tonga in the aftermath of the volcanic eruption and tsunami begin, fears of Covid-19 arriving to the small nation are arising.

The Tongan islands have roughly 100,000 residents and shut off their borders to non-nationals in 2020, and are yet to re-open them.

Australia and New Zealand are both set to provide assistance to Tonga via air and sea, while the UN also have plans to offer help to the Polynesian nation.

Jonathan Pryke, the director of the Pacific Islands Program at Sydney’s Lowy Institute, told the New York Times: “The front-of-mind issue has to be: How do we 100 percent ensure that we don’t bring Covid to this country?”

“Whatever good will might be built up by the response would be completely undone if they bring Covid into Tonga.”

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 11:35

Husband of charity worker who died in Tonga tsunami is ‘guilt-ridden’

The husband of a charity worker who died in the Tonga tsunami is “guilt-ridden” over the tragedy, his wife’s family have said.

Angela Glover, a 50-year-old animal charity worker from Brighton, died trying to save her dogs after an underwater volcano erupted near the Pacific island on Saturday.

<p>Angela Glover’s husband is said to be “shattered” by his wife’s death. </p>

Angela Glover’s husband is said to be “shattered” by his wife’s death.

Her brother, Nick Eleini, said he managed to speak to Ms. Glover’s surviving husband, James Glover, on Monday evening after her body was found.

The island is still facing communication issues after an underwater cable was severed during the natural disaster.

Mr Eleini told BBC Breakfast: “I was able to speak to James last night. He’s been able to communicate with us via satellite phone from the British Embassy. He’s safe, he has all his basic needs covered, he has shelter, food, water and money.

“I don’t believe he sustained any serious injuries. He is naturally just shattered and guilt-ridden as to the events that took place. He’s quite naturally blaming himself for not being able to save Angela.

“It doesn’t matter how many times we tell him he has nothing to reproach himself for. He is carrying an incredible burden of guilt at the moment.”

Mr Eleini said Mr Glover told him the full extent of the damage to the island is going to be “quite apparent” in the coming days.

“I think there is going to be a major humanitarian disaster unfolding there. I hope not, but there’s a lot of outlying islands in Tonga that haven’t been reached that people still need to get to,” he said.

“As far as the main island where James and Angela were living, I believe is quite flat, so the wave from the tsunami would have extended quite a way over the land, particularly on that north and west coast.

“A lot of the infrastructure is above ground; that has probably been completely destroyed.”

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 11:05

Two women drown on Peru beach after Tonga volcanic eruption 10,000 km away

Two women have died in Peru after an underwater volcanic eruption off Tonga, more than 10,000km away, caused high waves which ‘swept them away’.

The women were identified as 46-year-old Heyner Quiroz and 23-year-old Wendy Altamirano, who “were surprised by successive waves” that pulled and drowned them on Naylamp beach in Lambayeque, northern Peru.

The bodies were found by officers from the Naylamp beach police station, the police said on Twitter.

The eruption of underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai off Tonga prompted tsunami warnings around the Pacific, which were later receded on Sunday.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar has the full story:

Tonga: Two women drown on Peru beach after volcanic eruption 10,000 km away

Tonga’s Assembly speaker has called for immediate assistance for the island’s residents

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 10:40

Body found in search of British woman missing in Tonga

A body has been found in the search for a British woman living in Tonga following the tsunami that hit the country on Saturday, her brother has told The Independent.

Angela Glover, 50, was separated from her husband, James, when the tsunami caused by an underwater volcanic eruption hit their coastal home in the low-lying Veitongo area of the country.

Mr Glover was able to hold on to a tree, but Ms Glover and their dogs were reportedly swept away. Her brother, Nick Eleini, has now told The Independent that a body has been discovered in the search for the animal charity worker.

Holly Bancroft has the full story:

Body found in search for UK woman swept away in Tonga tsunami, brother says

Brighton-born Ms Glover was reportedly swept away by a tsunami as she tried to rescue her dogs

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 10:15

Lizz Truss shares support for Tonga after natural disaster

Liz Truss, the UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, has said Britain is working closely with Tonga authorities to support in the aftermath of the disaster.

She said the UK “stands ready to help the recovery effort” in a Tweet posted on 17th January, 2022.

She described the event as an “appalling devastation and loss of life”.

Furvah Shah18 January 2022 10:01