May 24, 2022

the difficult access to the airport complicates the arrival of emergency aid

Qfour days after the mighty volcanic eruption, emergency services must absolutely clear the ash that covers the country’s main airstrip.

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The race against time continues in the Tonga Islands. Qfour days after the mighty volcanic eruption, rescuers must absolutely clear the ash that covers the country’s main airstrip to allow the arrival of planes carrying emergency aid. A huge smoke mushroom 30 kilometers high dispersed ash, gas and acid rain across the region, before being followed by a tsunami with waves up to 15 meters high.

They swept over the capital Nuku’alofa, whose inhabitants fled to the heights, leaving behind flooded houses, while rocks and ash fell from the sky. More than 100,000 people, equivalent to Tonga’s population, have been affected by the ashfall and tsunami, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said, citing the Tonga Red Cross.

Australia and New Zealand have C-130 military jets ready to take off once the ash clears. “We thought the runway would be operational yesterday, but it hasn’t been fully cleared yet as ash has still fallen”, said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which specifies that‘”about 100 or 200 meters are cleared per day”. The Australian SBS site collected the few images that came from Tonga: they give an idea of ​​the extent of the damage on the spot.