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Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano erupted violently on 15-January causing a widespread plume of ash as well as generating a 1.2m high tsunami wave that crashed ashore in coastal areas of the capital Nuku’alofa.

The country has been reportedly blanketed in 1-2 cm of ash & significant damage reported along the coastline according to the first reconnaissance flights sent out by NZ and AUS.  Regular phone lines and internet cables are down making conclusions about the extent of the damage very difficult to make at this stage.

Tonga’s borders have effectively been closed due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic and very few international flights were already serving the main airport, Fua’amotu International (TBU/NFTF – Runway 2600m asphalt). International connections are from Fiji, NZ and Australia with Air Fiji, Qantas and Air New Zealand. Tonga’s main seaport is at Nuku’alofa operated by the Ports Authority of Tonga and is the main deep port for the islands. There is usually regular ocean service from Fiji and container facilities available.

The damage to infrastructure is still very hard to ascertain & aid groups / UN are coordinating with the government.  There is no update as of yet on the condition of the ocean port, although there are reports of washed up boulders and damage along the coastline.  The island’s main airport is currently closed due to the ash cloud caused by the eruption and for ash clean up operations at the airport. We understand that the clean up operation is ongoing today (17-January). No flights are operating to the airport currently.