'Unprecedented disaster': Tonga was hit by 49-foot tsunami, says government

WION Web Team
Sydney Updated: Jan 19, 2022, 01:13 PM(IST)

Satellite picture shows the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Haa'pai volcano in Tonga Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The New Zealand government said the undersea cables might take at least a month to fix after the devastating volcano and tsunami hit Tonga last week

Tonga's government said on Wednesday that a 49-foot tsunami wave had hit the country last weekend.

Reports say at least three people have been killed, although, the death toll could be higher with rescue efforts recently underway in the island nation.

"An unprecedented disaster hit Tonga," the government said as rescue operations began days after the volcano hit the island nation.

Also Read in Pics: Tonga assesses damage after volcanic eruption, COVID-19 threat looms

The tsunami wave had hit the west coast as several islands were affected even as reports said as a village was completely wiped out. The government said several people were injured as a result of the volcanic eruption.

Watch: Death toll climbs after volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga

Health workers and rescue operators have been deployed which has been delayed due to communication breakdown with the island nation after the tsunami hit. The volcano had hit the undersea cables hampering relief effort.

The New Zealand government said the undersea cables might take at least a month to fix. Reports say hundreds of homes have been destroyed with extensive damage reported in many remote islands which are still inaccessible.

Satellite picture of Tonga

According to the UN's coordination office, the island of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai had lost a large part of its surface area with rescue operations underway to save people.

Satellite pictures showed the island being blanketed by ash, although the international airport hasn't been damaged but reports say it is covered with ash with officials claiming it might reopen on Wednesday.

New Zealand has sent two ships with supplies with UN teams on standby. The Australian government said its C-130 aircraft is ready to deliver humanitarian assistance as the island nation grapples with the destruction caused due to the volcano.  

(With inputs from Agencies)

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