Four Japanese planes fly more aid to Tonga after the volcanic eruption

Australia, Canberra — As Pacific countries deal with volcanic eruptions and tsunami aftermath, four Japanese aircraft departed Australia on Monday to provide more important assistance to Tonga.

Two Japanese Lockheed C-130 Hercules and two Kawasaki C-2s have left the Royal Australian Air Force base in Amberley, Queensland, 3,300 kilometers (2,050) east of the devastated islands by January 15. I made a trip (miles). The Australian Ministry of Defense said in a statement about the twin disaster.

“Australia is proudly participating in Japan and other Pacific island nations in cooperation with the people of Tonga,” the statement said.

Aid flights from Australia, Japan and New Zealand also brought food, water, medicine and telecommunications equipment to Tonga over the weekend.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said Beijing has provided Tonga with an additional $ 3.1 million. The Chinese embassy in Fiji has already sent drinking water, food, generators, water pumps and other commodities to help with relief efforts, Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing.

Due to the COVID-19 risk to non-locally occurring countries, aid flights land, unload supplies, and depart without contact with locals on the ground. Goods are left for 72 hours before unpacking to reduce the risk of infection.

When the nearby Hunga Tonga Hunga Haapai volcano erupted, the ash erupting from the runways of major airports was removed. The explosion destroyed a boat in New Zealand and caused a tsunami across the Pacific that caused an oil spill in Peru.

Australia’s Secretary of State for International Development and Pacific Zed Seselja said on Sunday that the cleanup work is proceeding smoothly with the cooperation of the Tongan government and military personnel.

Ships from the United States and Britain were on their way. The Royal Australian Navy’s ship, HMAS Adelaide, equipped with helicopters, engineers and a 40-bed hospital, is expected to arrive in Tonga by Friday.

Ships can generate electricity and purify water.

Lack of clean water was a priority as local supplies were damaged by layers of ash and salt water. Katie Greenwood, Pacific Head of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Federation, said the Red Cross team on the ground had a widespread stagnant pool of saltwater dumped by the tsunami, a clean source of drinking water for tens of thousands of people. Reported to be contaminated. society.

On January 22, the Government of Japan announced that the Self-Defense Forces C-130 aircraft had arrived in Tonga with 3 tons of drinking water. It followed another Japanese flight on Friday.

The death toll is limited, with only three deaths confirmed so far in Tonga.

Three of Tonga’s small islands were severely damaged by the tsunami. The majority of Tongans live on the main island of Tongatapu, where about 50 houses have been destroyed and the coastline is littered with debris.

UN humanitarian officials reported that about 84,000 people, 80 percent of Tonga’s population, were affected by the eruption.

The tsunami cut a single fiber optic cable connecting Tonga and the world, making it impossible for many to connect with loved ones abroad. Since then, satellite communications have improved and Tonga’s carrier Digicel said it was able to restore international calling services to some areas.

By Rod Mcguirk

Associated Press