NZ pledges aid after Tonga volcanic eruption, tsunami

International |  IANS  | Published : Mon, Jan 17, 2022, 01:22 AM

Wellington, Jan (IANS) New Zealand on Sunday pledged to provide support for Tonga following a volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves crashing onto the Pacific Island.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters here that her government has made an initial sum of NZ$500,000 ($340,000) available to provide assistance to Tonga, reports Xinhua news agency.

The tsunami had a significant impact on part of the foreshore of Tonga, with boats and large boulders washed ashore and shops along the coast damaged, said Ardern.

There has been no official report of injuries or deaths yet. However, communications were interrupted and limited. The main undersea communications cable has been impacted, said Ardern.

"Damage assessments are under way and New Zealand has formally offered to provide assistance to Tonga. A New Zealand Defence Force P3 Orion is on stand-by to provide aerial surveillance subject to conditions including ash fall," she said.

Along with the aircraft flight, New Zealand was considering the deployment of a naval ship should it being needed, the Prime Minister further said.

The New Zealand government was waiting to hear from the Tongan authorities about what was needed, said Ardern.

Tsunami waves hit Tonga on Saturday evening.

The tsunami followed a series of violent eruptions from submarine volcano Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai, 65 km north of the country's main island Tongatapu.

Tsunami warnings were issued in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the US.

According to the Tonga Geological Services, a massive underwater volcano erupted on Friday with plumes reaching more than 19 km above sea level.

A cloud of ash and steam reached about 241 km across, an event captured by satellite images that have been shared by various meteorological agencies.

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