Jan 20, 2022 - Energy & Environment

First foreign aid arrives in Tonga after eruption

Air Force Load Master Corporal Dale Hall (L) helps secure humanitarian aid supplies aboard a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III aircraft.

Air Force Load Master Corporal Dale Hall helps secure humanitarian aid supplies aboard a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III aircraft on Jan. 20 in Nuku'alofa, Tonga. Photo: LACW Kate Czerny/Australian Defence Force via Getty Images

The first emergency supply aircraft landed in Tonga on Thursday, days after an undersea volcano erupted and triggered tsunami waves across the nation's islands.

Driving the news: A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules landed in Tonga after volcanic ash was cleared off the runway, according to a statement from the New Zealand government.

  • "The aircraft is carrying humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies, including water containers, kits for temporary shelters, generators, hygiene and family kits, and communications equipment," foreign affairs minister Nanaia Mahuta said.
  • The delivery of the supplies was contactless to avoid COVID-19 transmission, per the statement. Tonga is currently free of COVID.

The big picture: The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano erupted on Saturday and sent tsunami waves across the nation's islands, killing at least three people and leaving damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu.

  • Communications to Tonga were also largely cut off after an undersea cable was damaged in the disaster.
  • The first of two New Zealand Navy ships also arrived on Thursday, which will monitor shipping channels and "check the structural integrity of the wharf," defense minister Peeni Henare said.
  • The second Navy ship, set to arrive on Friday, has bulk water supplies on board, according to a statement.

Go deeper: At least 3 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

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