Volcanic ash at airport delays aid to Tonga as reports of damage emerge

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Volcanic ash at airport delays aid to Tonga as reports of damage emerge

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.

A satellite photo of the coast of Tonga before the eruption.
A satellite photo of the coast of Tonga before the eruption.
atellite image ©2022 Maxar Tech
A satellite photo of the coast of Tonga after the eruption.
A satellite photo of the coast of Tonga after the eruption.
atellite image ©2022 Maxar Tech

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.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force deploys after the Hunga Tonga eruption.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force deploys after the Hunga Tonga eruption.
NEW ZEALAND DEFENCE FORCE/AFP vi
Air Movements personnel stack and secure pallets of disaster relief supplies at an airbase in Auckland, New Zealand.
Air Movements personnel stack and secure pallets of disaster relief supplies at an airbase in Auckland, New Zealand.
AP
The HMAS Adelaide prepares to depart Garden Island fleet base in Sydney, Australia, Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, to assist the Tonga government after the eruption.
The HMAS Adelaide prepares to depart Garden Island fleet base in Sydney, Australia, Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, to assist the Tonga government after the eruption.
AP

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

A satellite photo of Tonga before the eruption.
A satellite photo of Tonga before the eruption.
Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Tech
The same photo of Tonga after the eruption.
The same photo of Tonga after the eruption.
Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Tech

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