Volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga

Stories | January 20, 2022

The Pacific island nation of Tonga is facing an unprecedented disaster following a volcanic eruption on Saturday 15 January, 2022.

On 15 January 2022, the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha-apai underwater volcano in the Pacific island nation of Tonga erupted.

The eruption sent a massive cloud of ash and smoke into the air and caused a devastating tsunami. Waves hit Australia, New Zealand and Japan as well as the west coasts of North and South America, and an atmospheric shockwave was detected around the world.

Communication in and out of Tonga may take weeks to be restored. This has prevented efforts to obtain an accurate assessment of the impact of the eruption.

On Tuesday, Tonga’s government issued its first official statement since the eruption on Saturday. Sadly, three people have died and multiple people have been injured. Those numbers are expected to rise in the coming days as more information comes to light.

There has been significant property damage with all houses on Mango Island destroyed, while only two houses remain on Fonoifua Island. Extensive damage was also reported on Nomuka Island.

Tonga is home to 120,000 people who live on more than 30 inhabited islands.

The Australian and New Zealand governments have mobilised to assist the Tongan government to restore vital communications, provide essential and urgently needed supplies of drinking water and food.

CBM works in many countries that experience regular disasters. We know first-hand that a disaster event can have sudden and often catastrophic impacts on entire regions and communities. For people with disabilities, disasters are most devastating as individuals can be forgotten and left behind when a disaster strikes.

CBM Australia partners with the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF). For more than 10 years we have been allied to bring about change and advocate for people with disabilities in the Pacific. We are on standby to assist PDF with their efforts in Tonga.

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