Update On Tonga
Tonga Update – 3pm 19 January 2022
- The Tonga Government is responding to efforts on the ground. Power has been restored, and clean-up and damage assessments are ongoing. Relief supplies are being distributed by Tongan authorities. Work to clear the airport runway continues and is expected to be complete today.
- There are three confirmed fatalities; two Tongan nationals and a British national. No further deaths have been reported today.
- Digicel (international mobile phone network provider) has set up an interim system on Tongatapu using the University of South Pacific’s satellite dish which may allow a 2G connection to be established today. This connection will be limited and patchy, covering about 10 percent of usual capacity and prioritising voice and SMS communications.
- US cable company SubCom advises it will take at least four weeks for Tonga’s cable connection to be repaired.
Tonga Government Response
- Overnight, the Tonga Government issued its first official media release since the eruption. The key information includes:
- Emergency response operations are under way, with initial damage assessments conducted, and relief supplies and health teams deployed to affected areas.
- Limited communication has been made with Vava’u and Ha’apai. There have been no communications with the Niuas but they are considered low risk. Efforts continue to restore communications.
- Evacuations have begun from Atata to Tongatapu and from Mango and Fonoifua to Nomuka.
- Water supplies have been affected by volcanic ash; damage assessments are under way.
- Challenges to sea and air transportation remain due to damage sustained by wharves and ash covering runways.
- Domestic and international flights have been deferred until further notice.
- Volcanic activity and tsunami risk continues to be monitored.
- The Prime Minister has met with the head of each diplomatic mission in Tonga to discuss their support.
New Zealand Government Response
· The Tonga Government has approved the arrival of HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Aotearoa which departed New Zealand yesterday, as well as a C130 Hercules once the airport runway is clear. The vessels are expected to arrive in Tonga by Friday, depending on weather conditions.
- A second NZDF P3 Orion surveillance flight is being conducted today. This flight will include a survey of Fiji’s southern Lau Islands, at the request of the Government of Fiji, to check for potential tsunami damage.
- New Zealand is continuing to assess Tonga’s water transport logistics capabilities for the transport of water from HMNZS Aotearoa.
- We have been engaging with Tonga’s National Emergency Management Organisation to better understand what is needed.
New Zealanders in Tonga
· All New Zealanders in Tonga are advised to register their details on www.safetravel.govt.nz(external link).
· Communications links with Tonga continue to be disrupted so New Zealanders may have difficulties contacting their whānau in Tonga at this time.
· New Zealanders in Tonga should follow the advice of the local authorities, including any tsunami evacuation orders.
· If you are a New Zealander and you require consular assistance, or are concerned about a New Zealand citizen in Tonga please contact the New Zealand Consular Emergency line on +64 99 20 20 20.
· If you are concerned or have lost contact with Tongan citizens who are not New Zealand Citizens, NZ Red Cross has activated their Restoring Family Links system for Tonga - Restoring Family Links: redcross.org.nz(external link) which may help to connect you with loved ones. We encourage you to visit this website and enter your family members’ details.
Advice on giving
· Updated advice on giving is available at Tonga | New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (mfat.govt.nz)