UPDATED 8:58 AM PT – Friday, January 21, 2022
The first flights carrying aid to Tonga have finally arrived. Planes from New Zealand and Australia arrived on Thursday carrying fresh water and other supplies.
The South Pacific island nation was hit by tsunami, which was triggered by an underwater volcanic eruption last week. The deliveries came after the nation’s main airport runway was cleared of ash.
“It has taken some days now for the airfield to be cleared sufficiently for us to land there, but there’s still remnants of volcanic ash on the runway and in the area of the flight line area which does complicate our capacity to the airfield, ” explained Dean Bolton, Squadron Wing Commander for the Royal Australian Air Force. “However, we successfully landed and delivered the aid as tasked.”
Aid supplies were transported successfully, and the aircrew returned home to Aotearoa New Zealand last night.
— NZ Defence Force (@NZDefenceForce) January 20, 2022
Meanwhile, reports say more than 80 percent of Tonga’s population have been affected by the eruption. According to some experts, Tonga’s future “looks grim” due to the unforeseen health impacts from the volcanic eruption that could impact its population for years to come.