Residents of Nomuka return to tsunami-devastated island


Residents of Nomuka, a small island in Tonga north of Tongatapu, have returned home after much of their island was wiped out by the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha-apai eruption and tsunami nearly two months.

They received a visit from Prime Minister Hu’akavameilku Siaosi Sovaleni over the weekend and requested the construction of an evacuation room at the highest point of the island, to house them in the event of a similar event on the island. ‘to come up.

The government said the Ministry of Agriculture is sending tapioca and kumara leaves to Nomuka to help farmers replant.

Photo: NZDF

A team of Australian Defense Force members and soldiers from Fiji are on HMAS Canberra at Nomuka.

They are there to clean up the debris from the island.

Meanwhile, a disaster risk resilience expert said an important lesson learned from the recent disaster is that Pacific countries need to invest in robust telecommunications networks with built-in safeties.

The volcanic eruption and tsunami was one of the worst natural disasters in the Pacific in recent years.

Last month, the World Bank estimated the damage at more than $90 million, equivalent to 18% of Tonga’s GDP.

But even as Tonga grapples with the enormity of rebuilding amid a Covid-19 outbreak, disaster resilience expert Bapon Fakhruddin said they needed to think beyond roads and building infrastructure.

“And how can we actually make sure that there’s not just an undersea cable, but that there are alternative communication systems. So if one is disrupted, another could actually provide back-up systems,” he said.

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