Update On Tonga

Published: Wed 19 Jan 2022 02:41 PM
Tonga Update – 3pm 19 January 2022The Tonga Government is responding to efforts on the ground. Power has been restored, and clean-up and damage assessments are ongoing. Relief supplies are being distributed by Tongan authorities. Work to clear the airport runway continues and is expected to be complete today.There are three confirmed fatalities; two Tongan nationals and a British national. No further deaths have been reported today.Digicel (international mobile phone network provider) has set up an interim system on Tongatapu using the University of South Pacific’s satellite dish which may allow a 2G connection to be established today. This connection will be limited and patchy, covering about 10 percent of usual capacity and prioritising voice and SMS communications.US cable company SubCom advises it will take at least four weeks for Tonga’s cable connection to be repaired.Tonga Government ResponseOvernight, the Tonga Government issued its first official media release since the eruption. The key information includes:
- Emergency response operations are under way, with initial damage assessments conducted, and relief supplies and health teams deployed to affected areas.
- Limited communication has been made with Vava’u and Ha’apai. There have been no communications with the Niuas but they are considered low risk. Efforts continue to restore communications.
- Evacuations have begun from Atata to Tongatapu and from Mango and Fonoifua to Nomuka.
- Water supplies have been affected by volcanic ash; damage assessments are under way.
- Challenges to sea and air transportation remain due to damage sustained by wharves and ash covering runways.
- Domestic and international flights have been deferred until further notice.
- Volcanic activity and tsunami risk continues to be monitored.The Prime Minister has met with the head of each diplomatic mission in Tonga to discuss their support.New Zealand Government Response
· The Tonga Government has approved the arrival of HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Aotearoa which departed New Zealand yesterday, as well as a C130 Hercules once the airport runway is clear. The vessels are expected to arrive in Tonga by Friday, depending on weather conditions.A second NZDF P3 Orion surveillance flight is being conducted today. This flight will include a survey of Fiji’s southern Lau Islands, at the request of the Government of Fiji, to check for potential tsunami damage.New Zealand is continuing to assess Tonga’s water transport logistics capabilities for the transport of water from HMNZS Aotearoa.We have been engaging with Tonga’s National Emergency Management Organisation to better understand what is needed.New Zealanders in Tonga
· All New Zealanders in Tonga are advised to register their details on link).
· Communications links with Tonga continue to be disrupted so New Zealanders may have difficulties contacting their whānau in Tonga at this time.
· New Zealanders in Tonga should follow the advice of the local authorities, including any tsunami evacuation orders.
· If you are a New Zealander and you require consular assistance, or are concerned about a New Zealand citizen in Tonga please contact the New Zealand Consular Emergency line on +64 99 20 20 20.
· If you are concerned or have lost contact with Tongan citizens who are not New Zealand Citizens, NZ Red Cross has activated their Restoring Family Links system for Tonga - Restoring Family Links: link) which may help to connect you with loved ones. We encourage you to visit this website and enter your family members’ details.Advice on giving
· Updated advice on giving is available at Tonga | New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (

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