Friday Dec 02, 2022

Water crisis looms for tsunami-hit Tonga; New Zealand help on the way – Reuters

  • New Zealand navy ships to arrive in Tonga on Friday
  • Airport could re-open on Thursday
  • Australian PM speaks to Tongan counterpart
  • Japan, US, 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.

Hundreds of homes in Tonga’s smaller outer islands have been destroyed, with at least three dead, 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 by 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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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.

“Securing access to safe drinking water is a critical immediate priority … as there is a mounting risk of diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea,” said Katie Greenwood of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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