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First international aid arrived in Tonga

This Thursday, the first international aid arrived in Tonga. After five days since the eruption of the volcano and the consequent tsunami, the first aid arrived on the island from New Zealand and Australia.

After exhausting days of work cleaning the ash from the landing port, a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules carrying disaster relief supplies landed at the South Pacific island nation’s Fua’amotu International Airport. An Australian Globemaster C-17A military transporter also landed, carrying desalination equipment, shelter, and kitchens.

Rachael Moore, Australia’s high commissioner to Tonga, said the loss of property had been “catastrophic,” that parts of the shoreline resembled a moonscape and that drinking water was “an extremely high priority.”

One New Zealand navy ship arrived on Thursday carrying 250,000 liters of water, and desalination equipment able to produce 70,000 liters a day, was due on Friday, its High Commission said.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted on Saturday bout 40 miles (65 km) from the Tongan capital with a blast heard 2,300 km away in New Zealand, triggering tsunamis that destroyed villages, resorts, and many buildings and knocked out communications for the nation of about 105,000 people. Ash has blanketed the archipelago and spoiled much of its drinking water.

Communication problems caused by the volcano’s eruption do not allow the government to know the magnitude of the damage and the number of resources needed to alleviate the situation. Communications have been down throughout Tonga since the eruption on Saturday. The single underwater fiber-optic cable that connects Tonga to the rest of the world was severely damaged. The company that owns the fiber-optic cable said the repairs could take weeks.

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