International agencies responsible for assessing the damage to the Tongan islands caused by the powerful underwater eruption caused by the tsunami, which killed at least one person, were declared “substantial damage” on Tuesday.
“From the little information we have, the scale of the disaster could be enormous, especially on the most isolated islands,” said Katie Greenwood of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The first estimates of the extent of the crisis were sent by satellite phone or installed by spy planes in a country disconnected from the Internet network after a cable broke.
No casualties were reported, but his family said the body of a British man swept away by a tsunami had been found. Missing at least one person in the archipelago.
The first confirmed victim was a 50-year-old woman named Angela Gower, who went out to run with her dog and disappeared shortly after the tidal wave.
“My family was saddened to learn of the discovery of my sister Angela’s body today,” said her brother, Nick Ellini, after being informed by the victim’s husband, James Glover.
“James was able to hang on a tree for a long time, but Angela was taken away with the dog,” he told The Guardian.
Australia and New Zealand sent Orion spy planes over Tonga the previous day, ready to send aid ships.
The capital, Nuku’alofa, was covered with two centimeters of ash and volcanic dust, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an emergency report. Power has been restored in some parts of the city. The local telephone network was also restored, but international communications were disrupted.
Rocks and debris were blown inland by the tsunami and damaged the Nuku’aloba Strait.
But the company is particularly concerned about the situation on the low-lying island mango, which has seen “significant property damage” and the trigger a catastrophic signal on Phonoi Island.
The OCHA reports that ‘many resorts and / or houses have been destroyed and / or severely damaged’ off the west coast of the main island of Tongatabu.
According to Zed Seselja, Australian Minister for International Development, a finding confirmed by a small group of Australian police stationed in the archipelago gave the first assessment of the West Coast as “positional concern”.
Satellite images released by the United Nations Satellite Center (UNOSAT) show the aftermath of the eruption and tsunami on the small island of Nomuka, very close to the Hanga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’bai volcano.
According to UNOSAT, 41 of the 104 structures found in the cloudless zone were damaged and almost all covered with ash.
The country’s airport hopes to clear its runway on Monday to allow Australian C – 130 military aircraft to land.
HMAS Adelaide from the Australian Navy, HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Aotearoa from the New Zealand Navy were sent to Tonga for a three-day voyage.
New Zealand’s defense minister said on Tuesday that water should be given priority as there was a risk of contamination by volcanic eruptions.
France, through the foreign partnership of Wallis and Futuna, “a neighbor of the Kingdom of Tonga”, is “ready to meet the most urgent needs of the people,” a statement said.
Major aid agencies, which respond quickly to providing emergency humanitarian assistance, said they were stuck with not being able to contact local staff.
Last week’s volcanic eruption was the largest recorded in decades: a tsunami immediately followed by a massive 30km high smoke and ash.
Waves of 1.2 meters swept over Nuku’alofa, where residents fled to high ground, leaving flooded houses as rocks and ash fell from the sky.