Volcano eruption: Some islands in the archipelago suffered catastrophic damage

"People panicked, ran and were injured - there may be extra dead and we just pray that this did not happen"

xlorrakakasim FFXC 9 archipelago, EXPLOSION, VOLCANO

The small islands on the outskirts of the Tonga archipelago have been severely damaged by the volcanic eruption and tsunami that followed, an island state diplomat said today, raising fears of more casualties.

"Alarming" images taken by a New Zealand Air Force reconnaissance plane show an entire village on Mango Island being destroyed and many buildings missing on the neighboring island of Atata, the diplomat, second in the Diplomacy Hierarchy, told Curtis Tuihanglingie.

"People panicked, ran and were injured," he told Reuters. "There may be extra dead and we just pray that this does not happen."

Tongan police have said two deaths have been confirmed so far, but as telecommunications in the archipelago have not been restored, the exact number of dead is unknown.

Australian Pacific Minister Zed Sicilia said Tonga officials hoped to evacuate people from the isolated, low-lying Haapai Islands and other islands on the edge of the archipelago, where conditions "are very harsh". destroyed by the tsunami ”.

The Tongan Navy has reported that tsunami waves in the area are estimated to have reached 5 to 10 meters high, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) said.

The islands of Mango and Atata are 70 and 50 kilometers from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai volcano, which erupted on Saturday in the Pacific Ocean.

Atata has a population of about 100 people and Mango about 50.

"It is disturbing to see that the waves may have passed Atata from one side to the other," Tuihanglingie said.

Pictures taken by the New Zealand Air Force and posted unofficially on a Facebook page confirm Tuihanglingye's statements, while showing tarpaulins being used as a shelter on Mango Island.

Angela Glover, a 50-year-old British woman, was killed in a tsunami as she tried to rescue dogs she was watching in a stray shelter, her brother said. This is the first confirmed death from the disaster.

Corridor cleaning

A thick layer of ash covers the islands, the New Zealand Senior Commission said, adding that it was trying "as a matter of priority" to re-establish communications with the smaller islands.

The main airport of the archipelago, Fuamotu International Airport, has not been damaged by the volcanic eruption and the tsunami, but the dense layer of ash that has fallen prevents its operation and the provision of humanitarian aid.

Two hundred residents of Tonga started cleaning the runway yesterday Monday and so far they have cleaned only 100 meters. Ocha pointed out that island state officials explained that the corridor would take days to clean, as it is done manually.

Residents of the west coast of the central island of Tongatapu have been evacuated due to "serious damage", Ocha said in a statement, while ministers had made radio appeals against rising commodity prices amid concerns about shortages.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Nana Mahuta said today that a C-130 aircraft was ready to fly to Tonga and deliver humanitarian aid, including drinking water containers, generators and toilets. However, this cannot leave until the runway at Nuqualofa Airport has been cleared.

Mahuta also explained that two New Zealand Navy ships carrying water and other basic necessities, as well as a helicopter, would be sent to Tonga. However, the ships take three days to get there.

"Water is the first priority in this phase," she said.

Alexander Mateu, the Red Cross' regional director, explained that volcanic ash and the tsunami may have contaminated Tonga water. "One of the main needs is to provide water purifiers and clean, drinking water," he said.

The Tongan government is expected to formally request assistance from other countries.

The archipelago consists of 176 islands, of which 36 are uninhabited, and has a population of about 104.494 people.

At the same time, the island nation remains cut off from the rest of the world as a volcanic eruption cut off the main telecommunications submarine cable.

The island of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai, located in the highly seismic Pacific Ring of Fire, almost disappeared after the volcanic eruption, according to satellite images taken about 12 hours later, making it difficult for volcanologists to track activity.

Source: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ- Reuters