Residents of Tonga, a Polynesian country, are receiving aid a week after an underwater volcanic eruption followed by a tsunami.
This tsunami was the eruption of the underwater Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano.
According to Reuters, a national emergency team had already distributed 60,000 liters of clean drinking water to residents. Additionally, a desalination plant on a New Zealand naval ship arrived on Jan. 21. This plant is capable of producing 70,000 liters a day and has started drawing seawater from Tonga's harbour.
“Tongans have demonstrated their resilience in this calamity and will get back on their feet,” said Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau, who is helping lead the nation’s emergency response efforts, reported The New York Post.
Naval assets from Australia, Britain and New Zealand are also going to help, and there are flights carrying humanitarian aid from Japan and New Zealand are expected. Air transport has been difficult as the runway at Tonga’s main airport was covered in ash.
Approximately 84% of the nation’s 107,000 residents were impacted by ash fall or the tsunami, according to the office of Tonga’s prime minister, reported The New York Post.
The official death toll in Tonga is three people. Nomuka Island residents must now visit a newly assembled field hospital after the local health center was swept away by the tsunami, reported The New York Post.
"Almost all crops in the country have been badly affected,” said Sione Hufanga, the resident United Nations country coordination specialist, to Reuters. “Farmers have lost their homes and livelihood. The country will be heavily relying on aid food for some time."
The Tongan government has implemented a strict COVID-19 policy during this time however, so aid workers cannot enter the country unless they have undergone a three-week isolation period. Aid deliveries are contactless and pallets quarantined for 72 hours before being distributed by Tongan authorities.