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Volcanic eruption off Tonga: Drinking water has priority – UN with gloomy prognosis

After the volcanic eruption off Tonga, the extent of the destruction becomes clear. Most people are affected by the disaster – as is agriculture.

Nuku’alofa (Tonga) – The extent of the destruction is becoming visible a week after the massive eruption of the underwater volcano off Tonga in the South Pacific. An estimated 84 percent of the approximately 105,000 residents on all islands were affected by the ash rain and the tsunami, according to a government statement published on Saturday (01/22/2022).

The supply of drinking water and food is now a priority. Aid supplies are on their way to more distant islands, but communication remains “an acute challenge”. So far, almost 60,000 liters of water have been distributed as part of the relief efforts, it said. The ship “HMNZS Aotearoa” sent by the New Zealand government, which arrived on Friday (01/21/2022), brought relief supplies and another 250,000 liters of water.

Governments and NGOs help Tonga after volcanic eruption

Although there have been no further volcanic activities according to the government, sea transport initially remained difficult as ash on the sea surface damaged ships. The first planes from Australia and New Zealand brought urgently needed relief supplies. However, domestic flights remained suspended for the time being due to ongoing clearance work on runways.

Dieses Bild zeigt ein zerstörtes Haus in der Hauptstadt Nuku‘alofa.


A destroyed house in the capital Nuku’alofa: The damage in Tonga after the volcanic eruption is immense.

International NGOs are also involved in the relief efforts in Tonga. According to the organization Save the Children, it is planning to set up temporary learning rooms and distance learning to support children. In addition, affected families are currently being helped with cash, said a spokeswoman. This support not only ensures that families can support themselves, but also contributes to the recovery of the local economy in the long term.

Volcanic eruption off Tonga: Food aid still needed

The United Nations (UN) assume that Tonga could also need food aid in the long term. “Even before the volcanic eruption, the food supply of 20 percent of the population was not secured,” said a spokesman for the World Food Program (WFP) in Geneva. Many farmland, livestock and fisheries have been badly affected by the tsunami and the volcanic ash rain. It is estimated that up to 12,000 people who make their living from agriculture will be affected, said WFP spokesman Tomson Phiri. The volcanic eruption on the Canary Island of La Palma* also affected local agriculture.

According to local observations by a representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), solidarity among the people of Tonga is great. People showed great resilience and would help each other. The coordinator for the project to rebuild the destroyed parliament, Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau, said, according to the Reuters news agency: “The Tongans have shown their resilience in this disaster and will get back on their feet.”

Volcanic eruption off Tonga caused ash cloud like a mushroom cloud

Tonga’s government said 26 people had been brought to Nomuka from Mango Island after losing their homes. A field hospital was set up on Nomuka because the health center there was washed away. However, the country’s main hospital remained open. So far, there have been pledges of relief supplies and more than 20 million US dollars in support from all over the world.

Der Vulkanausbruch vor Tonga hatte die Sprengkraft von etwa 10 Megatonnen TNT – mehr als das 500-Fache der Atombombe von Hiroshima, schätzt die Nasa.


The volcanic eruption off Tonga had the explosive force of about 10 megatons of TNT – more than 500 times the atomic bomb of Hiroshima, Nasa estimates.

The undersea Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai, just 40 miles north of Tonga’s capital Nuku’alofa, ejected a cloud of ash and gas miles high last week like a mushroom cloud. According to experts, it was one of the world’s worst outbreaks in decades*. Tsunami waves even reached distant regions like Alaska (USA*), Japan and South America. In Peru, the high waves even led to an oil spill. Tonga’s government has so far confirmed three dead and several injured. (tvd/dpa/KNA) * is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.

Rubriklistenbild: © Guo Lei/imago

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