Volcanic eruption and tsunami from the New Zealand High Commission in Tonga: update eight 24/1/2022 – Tonga


Volcanic eruption and tsunami: update eight 24/1/2022

  • Prime Minister Ardern spoke with his Tongan counterpart Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Sovaleni on Thursday evening, while Foreign Minister Mahuta also called his counterpart Minister Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu on Friday to discuss how countries could work together on the relief effort.
  • Telephone connections for Digicel customers continue to improve but can still be difficult at times. People are asked to be patient and call back if they cannot get through.
  • Water tests have shown that it is safe to drink in Tongatapu. However, some communities in Tongatapu have lost access to drinking water. Drinking water is supplied to these communities and to the outer islands.
  • The latest weather forecast indicates that no tropical cyclones are expected in the coming week.
  • The death toll remains at three; two Tongan nationals and a British national.
  • US cable company SubCom says it will take several weeks for Tonga’s cable connection to be repaired.
  • Although the potential for future eruptions remains, they are unlikely to be as large as the January 15 eruption.

Government of Tonga Response

The Government of Tonga is leading response efforts on the ground. Cleanup and damage assessments are ongoing. Relief supplies are distributed by the Tongan authorities.

New Zealand government response

  • A second C-130 Hercules arrived in Tonga on Saturday morning carrying humanitarian and disaster relief supplies to Tongatapu, including non-perishable food, water testing kits, first aid kits, masks and other safety equipment. These items were delivered contactless in accordance with the Tongan Government’s Covid-19 protocols.
  • We are planning a third C-130 flight this week. To date, all deliveries have been non-contact in accordance with agreed COVID-19 protocols.
  • HMNZS Wellington arrived in Tonga on Thursday. Hydrographers have now inspected the ports of Nuku’alofa and ‘Eua and can confirm that they are open and safe.
  • HMNZS Aotearoa arrived in Tonga on Friday carrying humanitarian and disaster relief supplies. It is currently unloading the 250,000 liters of drinking water on board.
  • HMNZS Canterbury is due to arrive in Tonga later this week. It is carrying additional relief supplies and equipment, as requested by the Tongan Government.
  • Further deployments are possible subject to requests and clearances from the Tongan government.

Keeping Tonga COVID-19 Free

  • The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges to New Zealand’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance in the Pacific.
  • As Tonga faces significant reconstruction, including parts of its health system and critical infrastructure, the New Zealand government and its partners are following strict protocols, to keep Tonga COVID-19 free.
  • All New Zealand Defense Force personnel and relief supply personnel, both in New Zealand and on the journey to Tonga, adhere to a number of protocols, including:
    • Be fully vaccinated
    • Practice good hand hygiene and wear PPE at all times when handling humanitarian supplies, while applying procedures that minimize handling of supplies, and;
    • Pre-departure testing for all deployed personnel
  • Contactless delivery in Tonga means deployed personnel must keep at least 2 meters away from local people at all times, maintain good mask-wearing, hand hygiene and PPE practices and keep comprehensive records places visited

New Zealanders in Tonga

  • All New Zealanders in Tonga are encouraged to register their details at safetravel.govt.nz (link is external).
  • Communication links with Tonga continue to be disrupted, so New Zealanders may have difficulty contacting their whānau in Tonga at this time.
  • New Zealanders in Tonga should follow the advice of local authorities, including any tsunami evacuation orders.
  • If you have lost contact with a New Zealand citizen in Tonga, please email [email protected] with your contact details and the New Zealand citizen’s contact details in Tonga. If you have serious concerns for the safety of a New Zealand citizen or require urgent consular assistance in Tonga, please contact the New Zealand Consular Hotline at +64 99 20 20 20.
  • If you are concerned or have lost contact with Tongan citizens who are not New Zealand citizens, the New Zealand Red Cross has activated its Restoring Family Links scheme (link is external) for Tonga – which can help to connect with your loved ones. We encourage you to visit this website and enter the details of your family members.
  • You may have read in the news that the systems of the Central Tracing Agency of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), based in Switzerland, have been hacked. The New Zealand Red Cross Family Links Restoration Service for Tonga has not been affected by this and data held by the New Zealand Red Cross should be considered secure.

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