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Tonga death toll: Three dead after eruption and tsunami, UN says

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 18 Jan 2022, 3:14PM
 Image / JMA
Image / JMA

Tonga death toll: Three dead after eruption and tsunami, UN says

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 18 Jan 2022, 3:14PM

Three people have died following the eruption in Tonga on Saturday, according to the United Nations' co-ordinator in the Pacific. 

Fiji-based UN co-ordinator Jonathan Veitch said two deaths were confirmed but there were still parts of Tonga where communication remained difficult or non-existent. 

Veitch confirmed one of the fatalities was British woman Angela Glover, who was reported by her family to have been killed by the tsunami in Nuku'alofa. 

Northward view of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apa volcano. Photo / AP 

Glover is thought to have died trying to rescue her dogs at the animal charity she ran. 

"The UN family in the Pacific stands ready to support the people of Tonga to recover from the weekend's volcanic eruption and following tsunami," Veitch told Al Jazeera from Fiji. 

"In close collaboration with the government of Tonga and our regional and international partners, we are working with the government to ensure our support is targeted and effective. Our teams are on standby with emergency supplies to assist, and our UN staff based in Tonga are already supporting coordination and response efforts in-country." 

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano, which erupted on Saturday, is about 65km north of Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa 

Serious damage has been reported from the west coast of Tongatapu and a state of emergency has been declared. 

Earlier today, New Zealand's Acting High Commissioner for Tonga, Peter Lund, told Tagata Pasifika that there were unconfirmed reports of up to three deaths following the weekend's eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai and the resulting tsunami. 

"I understand, talking to our police advisor this morning, unconfirmed reports of up to three fatalities, but that is not yet confirmed." 

Speaking to the news outlet from Nuku'alofa via satellite phone, Lund said there was a huge clean-up operation underway in the area after the town had been blanketed in a thick film of volcanic dust. 

Before and after scenes of the Tonga volcano eruption recorded by satellite. Photo / Supplied 

Meanwhile, the United Nations say a distress signal has been detected in an isolated group of islands in the Tonga archipelago following Saturday's volcanic eruption and tsunami, prompting particular concern for its inhabitants. 

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said there had been no contact from the Ha'apai group of islands and there was "particular concern" about two small low-lying islands – Fonoi and Mango, where an active distress beacon had been detected. 

According to the Tonga government, 36 people live on Mango and 69 on Fonoi. 

- additional reporting RNZ 

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