Volcanic ash blanketing a runway at an airport in Tonga was delaying much-needed aid deliveries to the island nation, officials said.
An air shipment of drinking water and other supplies from New Zealand’s military will be at least a day behind schedule because of the ash caused by Saturday’s eruption of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano.
Two New Zealand navy ships will be heading to Tonga Tuesday and Australia is prepared to dispatch their own navy vessel.
The air delay came as significant damage was reported to parts of the island nation following the undersea volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami.
UN humanitarian officials and Tonga’s government “report significant infrastructural damage around Tongatapu,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday.
“There has been no contact from the Ha’apai Group of islands, and we are particularly concerned about two small low-lying islands — Mango and Fonoi — following surveillance flights confirming substantial property damage,” Dujarric said.
Three deaths have been reported in Tonga from the eruption, though New Zealand’s Acting High Commissioner for Tonga, Peter Lund, said they were so far unconfirmed.
But one of the fatalities was confirmed by relatives in an interview with Sky News.
Nick Eleini told the publication that his 50-year-old sister, Angela Glover, was swept away by a wave in a “terrible accident” while she was with her husband and trying to rescue their dogs.
Eleini said it had been his sister’s life dream” to live in the South Pacific and “she loved her life there.”
With Post wires