The speaker of Tonga’s parliament has spoken out following Saturday’s devastating eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, off the nation’s coast.
The initial eruption lasted at least eight minutes and sent plumes of gas, ash and smoke several kilometres into the air.
The explosion was so intense it was heard as “loud thunder sounds” in Fiji more than 800 kilometres (500 miles) away, officials in Suva said.
With small stones and ash falling from the sky, frightened Tongans fled to higher ground as a tsunami wave measuring 1.2 metres (four feet) hit the capital Nuku’alofa, many leaving behind flooded houses, some with structural damage.
However the full extent of the damage in Tonga was unclear Sunday with communication lines down.
This morning the speaker of the Tongan Legislative Assembly, Lord Fakafanua, said communications had yet to be restored and the extent of the damage is still unknown.
He also appealed for international assistance and urged people wanting to donate to ensure they do so through official channels.
Australia and New Zealand have already announced they are sending help to Tonga.
Full statement from Lord Fakafanua
On January 15, 2022, following an unprecedented volcanic eruption, a devastating tsunami struck the Kingdom of Tonga. Many areas were also affected by substantial volcanic ashfall. Communications remain down and the full extent of the harm to lives and property is currently unknown. What we do know is that Tonga needs immediate assistance to provide its citizens with fresh drinking water and food. More details on Tonga’s official disaster relief fund will be announced shortly so that those looking to help can contribute directly to Tonga’s relief efforts. To ensure the help kindly offered reaches those in need, we must ensure relief funds are verified, transparent and legitimate, please keep the people of Tonga in your prayers, and may God bless you.
Speaker of the House
Legislative Assembly of Tonga