'HORRIFIC': Photos emerge showing island's 'devastation' after tsunami
New images from Tonga have emerged after the island nation was hit by a tsunami triggered by a volcanic eruption.
Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai’s eruption on Saturday led to the Kingdom of Tonga being hit with huge waves and triggered tsunami warnings across the globe.
It also claimed the life of British woman Angela Glover and two others.
The Consulate of the Kingdom of Tonga shared photos on Twitter of the devastation caused by the eruption with the capital Nukuʻalofa covered in volcanic ash.
Trees are seen ripped out of their roots along the pristine coastline of the capital. Debris covers the streets as cars are found caked in the ash of the volcano.
Marian Kupu, a reporter for Broadcomfm Broadcasting 87.5 in Tonga, also shared photos of the damage in the capital on Facebook.
Destruction wasn't just limited to Nukuʻalofa either. Photos also showed widespread damage in Ha'apai – a group of islands near the volcano.
Vegetation is seen torn up with roads ripped up alongside shattered pieces of concrete.
People called the damage “horrific”.
“Devastating,” one man tweeted.
“The poor people and animals.”
'Our ears were ringing'
Kupu told Reuters Nuku'alofa residents are in the process of cleaning up.
“The dust from rooftops, trees, from offices, vehicles, everywhere. What we are concerned [about] now is clean drinking water because both of our drinking tank water has been affected by the dust due from the aftermath of the volcanic ash,” she said.
"We've got food supply. I think we'll be able to survive in the next few weeks but we're hoping shipments of imported, normal importation of food will be back to normal after this disruption but so far food is okay. Water is our most concern right now."
Kupu said three people have died: one person in Ata Ata, another in Ha'apai and a third, being British woman Angela Glover on the island of Tongatapu which is where Tonga's capital is.
"So the first explosion that happened, our ears were ringing and we couldn't even hear each other so all we do is pointing to our families to get up, get ready to run,” she said.
“So that's what we did. It's like when you're in the aeroplane, couldn't hear properly but the sound, the blast, the sound was so loud, our ears were ringing and you couldn't hear anything.
"We evacuated and then we, all our families were just running away from the Kolovai area, because the Kolovai is right beside the sea shore."
Overseas Tongans desperate to hear from home
Tongans are only just getting in touch with loved ones overseas now as phone services were restored late on Wednesday. However, the internet remains down and could be disconnected for another month.
Kupu said ashes in the transformer which provides power for street lights has caused issues with switching the power back on. Some areas are experiencing delays in getting electricity restored.
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However, the restoration of some phone services will come as a relief to many wondering about the fate of their family and friends.
Former All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa, a Tongan national who lives in London, told the BBC he has been trying to get in contact with his mum.
Fekitoa said his mum lives in Ha'apai.
“I just can’t wait to hear what’s happening, and hopefully get something back in the next couple of days but in the meantime I’ll do whatever I can to help out here,” he told the broadcaster.
Latest pics from #Tonga - courtesy of local journalist Marian Kupu of Broadcomm Broadcasting (she's on FB if media want to talk to someone on the ground). So happy to see the Pacific spirit in effect! @DigicelTO international calls now possible #Tonga #TongaVolcano #tongatsunami pic.twitter.com/Pp5jMAT8xH
— Josephine Latu-Sanft (@JoLatuSanft) January 19, 2022
Three Tongan islands suffer 'extensive damage'
The Red Cross said three of Tonga's smaller islands were severely damaged by tsunami waves, as the extent of the destruction caused by a volcanic eruption is becoming clearer.
UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said about 84,000 people, more than 80 per cent of Tonga's population, were affected by the eruption.
Katie Greenwood, head of the Pacific branch of the International Federation of Red Cross, said a ship managed to reach the outer islands of Nomuka, Mango and Fonoifua on Wednesday, reporting few homes were left standing after waves of up to 15 metres hit inhabited areas.
Mr Dujarric told The Associated Press the three islands “suffered devastating consequences” from the waves.
"Most of the structures and homes on those islands have been totally destroyed,” he said.
“It appears that all the houses were destroyed on Mango Island, and only two are still standing on Fonoifua Island, and extensive damage was reported in Nomuka.”
He noted that people are being evacuated from the islands.
The recovery and aid efforts will prove difficult too. It’s not exactly clear at this stage what Tonga needs in terms of international assistance, however, clean drinking water appears to be something the island nation is in desperate need of.
Ms Greenwood said Tonga has expressed a need for “contactless” aid too citing concerns about the spread of Covid-19.
Mr Dujarric said the Tongan people “really don't want to trade one disaster for another”.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said teams heading to Tonga would also be available to help if needed with the evacuation of the nearly 150 people living on the devastated outer islands.
“We are willing to help where it is useful to the Tongan government, and to the extent that they are satisfied with the Covid protocols,” he said.
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