Underwater volcanic eruption: Aus, NZ braces up to aid tsunami-hit Tonga

On Monday, Australia and New Zealand sent surveillance planes to Tonga, which was cut off from the rest of the world when an underwater volcano erupted, triggering a tsunami and blanketing the Pacific island in ash.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised to help Tonga as soon as possible, but said relief operations had been delayed by volcanic ash.

“There’s been a lot of issues there with the ash cloud and the disruption to communications,” Morrison said on Monday, “so we’re working together to send as much support to Tonga as we reasonably can.”

Initial reports revealed no mass casualties and that the airport “appears to be in reasonably fair condition,” but that there was “severe damage” to roads and bridges, according to Australia’s Pacific Minister Zed Seselja.

Seselja stated that Australia was coordinating responses with the US, New Zealand, France, and other countries.

On Saturday, an underwater volcano off the coast of Tonga erupted, causing a tsunami and shutting down phone and internet cables for the whole island.

Tonga has yet to receive any official reports of injuries or deaths, but communications are still limited, and outlying costal areas remain cut off.

Some of the outer islands are immersed under water, according to satellite pictures.

According to media reports, a woman from the United Kingdom has gone missing after being washed away.

When the wave came, Angela Glover and her husband James, who own the Happy Sailor Tattoo in Nuku’alofa, were on their way to fetch their dogs. According to New Zealand state network TVNZ, James managed to cling to a tree, but his wife, who also runs a dog rescue on the island, and their dogs were washed away. She has yet to be discovered, according to several social media posts from relatives and friends.

The tsunami, according to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, had a significant impact on infrastructure.

The Red Cross said it was mobilising its regional network to respond to the “biggest volcanic eruptions in decades” in the Pacific.

“The Red Cross presently has enough relief supplies in the nation to provide vital items such as tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets, shelter tool kits, and hygiene kits to 1,200 homes,” said Katie Greenwood, IFRC’s Pacific Head of Delegation.

Communities may not have access to safe drinking water as a result of seawater inundation induced by tsunami waves and ashfall, according to the agency.

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