Cape Town - It has been a devastating week for the people of Tonga after the massive underwater volcanic eruption, but international aid efforts have finally arrived for the tsunami-hit nation.
Last Saturday’s volcanic eruption triggered tsunamis that destroyed villages, many buildings as well as the island’s communications line. The island was left covered in ash, preventing neighbours New Zealand and Australia from assisting as their aircraft could not land at the main airport.
Al Jazeera reported on Friday that the first emergency aid had finally arrived after a New Zealand maritime sustainment vessel transported 250,000 litres of water with more supplies, including communications equipment. Power generators are to be sent in the coming days.
Japan also sent aid supplies which included water, while the Chinese embassy in Tonga donated US$100,000 in basic humanitarian assistance as well as drinking water and food.
Australia donated $1 million and is in the process of sending humanitarian supplies for disaster relief after its aid flights were forced to turn back due to in-flight issues.
United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said the ashfall had caused further damage to crops, livestock and fisheries which affected around 60,000 people.
“Assessment teams have reached most parts of the country, including remote and isolated islands,” said Dujarric.
“We remain seriously concerned about access to safe water for 50,000 people throughout the country,” he said.
Dujarric added that water quality testing continues, and most people are relying on bottled water.
According to China Global Television Network (CGTN), Tonga has two main types of water sources, one of which is through rainwater and the other from underground water wells.
Meanwhile, telephone links to the outside world were reconnected, but officials said full internet service could take up to a month to be fully restored.