The seismic episode occurred on January 15th with the eruption of the undersea volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, some 65 kilometers north of the capital Nuku’alofa, triggering a tsunami which destroyed parts of Tonga and was felt as far away as Alaska, Japan, and South America.
"On behalf of ADB, I would like to express our deepest sympathy to the people and the Government of Tonga for the loss of lives and livelihoods and wish them the very best as they rebound and rebuild after this disaster," said ADB Director General for the Pacific Leah Gutierrez. "The support we are providing will help the Government of Tonga to offer timely and coordinated emergency assistance to the many thousands of people affected by the tsunami.”
The government has confirmed three casualties, one on the main island of Tongatapu and two in the Ha’apai group. The eruption severed communications with Tonga’s islands, cutting the international fiber optic cable between Tonga and Fiji which is the country’s communications lifeline. Following preliminary surveillance flights, the Australian and New Zealand High Commissions in Tonga reported that thick plumes of smoke and ash have spread across the country, tainting water supplies. The flyover images have revealed extreme housing destruction on a number of outer islands. The tsunami impacted the foreshore on the western and northern sides of Tongatapu, where the capital Nuku'alofa is located. Boats and large boulders have washed ashore there and shops and other businesses along the coast have been severely damaged.
The USD10 million quick-disbursing grant financing to Tonga is sourced from the third phase of ADB’s Pacific Disaster Resilience Program. The ADB-supported program covers 10 Pacific island countries and provides timely and predictable financing to quickly help emergency responses and reduce the indirect economic and social costs of physical losses after a disaster./.