New Zealand and Australia send flights to survey Tonga volcano damage
New Zealand and Australia on Monday sent military surveillance flights to Tonga to assess the damage caused by the massive volcanic eruption over the weekend.
The Associated Press reported that an ash cloud from the explosion prevented flights from going out earlier, but New Zealand is now hoping to be able to send essential supplies to the Tongan people.
Australia’s minister for the Pacific region, Zed Seselja, confirmed on Monday that a P-8 surveillance flight was able to depart to Tonga to perform surveillance. Seselja said on social media that Canberra is prepared to send $1 million in humanitarian relief and emergency supplies to assist Tonga.
The effects of the eruption were felt all across the Pacific, with booms audible in Alaska and tsunami advisories issued in Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and California.
The U.N. detected a distress signal from the Tonga archipelago, which includes 36 inhabited islands, according to Reuters. Despite the widespread damage, mass casualties have not been reported so far.
“There has been no contact from the Ha’apai Group of islands, and we are particularly concerned about two small low-lying islands — Mango and Fonoi — following surveillance flights confirming substantial property damage,” U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said, according to the AP.
The U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Monday that more volcanic activity is still possible.
A British woman named Angela Glover who lived in Tonga was found dead after being reported missing, according to her family.
“I haven’t got the words in my vocabulary to even describe how we’re feeling at the moment,” Glover’s brother, Nick Eleini, told Sky News. “This is just a terrible shock that’s happened to us. We’re ordinary people, stuff like this doesn’t happen to people like us, but then, it does.”