Middle East

Distress signal detected on lowland Tonga

The South Pacific Islands remain largely cut off from the world a few days after an eruption on an uninhabited island cut major submarine communications cables.

Satellite images show the SO2 (sulfur dioxide) cloud of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Haapai volcano passing through the Pacific Ocean on January 17, 2022. (Reuters)

The United Nations said the first death was reported when a distress signal was detected on the lowland island of Tonga following a volcanic eruption and tsunami.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs expressed concern on the two islands of Mango and Phonoi on Tuesday after a surveillance flight confirmed “serious property damage” from the eruption on Saturday, but there was no contact with residents.

“Active distress beacons have been detected in mangoes,” OCHA said. According to the Tonga census, the island is home to more than 30 people.

Officials said widespread damage was reported on the beaches west of Tonga Tapu, the main island of Tonga, and several resorts and homes were destroyed or severely damaged, leaving the two missing.

Satellite images posted by UN agencies showed that numerous structures on Nomuka Island had been damaged.

“Further volcanic activity cannot be ruled out,” OCHA said, noting that only minor injuries were reported, but a formal assessment of the remote islands in particular has not yet been determined.

British woman dies

Details of the missing were not revealed, but a brother of a British woman who was swept away by the tsunami said her sister’s body was found.

Nick Eleni said the family was “ravaged” when Angela Glover died trying to save the dog.

“Today, my family was sadly informed that the body of my sister Angela was found,” Eleni said in a statement.

Angela Glover, 50, and her husband lived in Tonga and ran an animal welfare charity, providing shelter and stray dog ​​rehoming.

“I understand that this horrific accident happened when they tried to save the dog,” Eleni said.

Rare information

Three days after the eruption, there was little information from the Pacific Islands and most communication links were broken.

New Zealand MP Jenny Salesa, who lives in a large number of Tongans in the constituency, said everyone is praying for the people of Tonga.

“They are really worried about their safety,” she told Radio New Zealand.

“Basically, I don’t know if they’re fine, if someone in the family is missing or washed away by the sea. Basically, people here in New Zealand are worried. Is a lack of communication. “

The Royal Australian Air Force conducted a surveillance flight over Tonga on Monday, preparing further flights to carry emergency supplies to the Pacific Kingdom.

OCHA said communication issues mean that the effects of eruptions and tsunamis cannot be fully assessed, but there are concerns about pollution of drinking water and crops, and the need for safe water supply.

Source: AFP

https://www.trtworld.com/asia/distress-signal-detected-in-low-lying-tonga-island-53764?utm_source=other&utm_medium=rss Distress signal detected on lowland Tonga

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