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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)

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