Saturday Feb 04, 2023

Water crisis looms as residents tackle debris in tsunami-hit Tonga – Reuters

  • New Zealand navy ships to arrive in Tonga on Friday
  • Airport could re-open on Thursday
  • Australian PM spoken to Tongan counterpart
  • Japan, U.S., China and Australia offer aid

Jan 19 (Reuters) – Two New Zealand navy vessels will arrive in Tonga on Friday carrying critical water supplies for the Pacific island nation reeling from a volcanic eruption and tsunami and largely cut off from the outside world.

At least three people were killed and hundreds of homes in Tonga’s smaller outer islands destroyed after Saturday’s huge eruption triggered tsunami waves that rolled over the islands, home to 105,000 people. read more

With Tonga’s airport smothered in volcanic ash and communications hampered by the severing of an undersea cable, information on the scale of devastation has come mostly from reconnaissance aircraft.

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But photographs posted on social media revealed more of the devastation on Wednesday, showing coastal areas where trees and buildings had been swept away and neighbourhoods covered with a thick coating of ash. People worked together to clear the debris and inspect the ruins of their homes.

The Red Cross said its teams in Tonga had confirmed that salt water from the tsunami and volcanic ash were polluting the drinking water of tens of thousands of people.

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