Some Feared Missing In Tonga

Some Feared Missing In Tonga

Jan. 17, 2022, 7:36 a.m.

A New Zealand government official in Tonga says some people are missing after Saturday's major volcanic eruption.

Acting High Commissioner Peter Lund spoke with a New Zealand TV broadcaster via satellite phone from Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa, on Sunday.

Lund said, "So far there are no official reports of deaths or serious injuries," but "there are a couple of people who are reported missing."

He said, "There is quite a lot of damage on the Nuku'alofa waterfront," adding that the western coast was hit badly.

The scale of damage in Tonga is still unknown. International media are trying to obtain information, but internet and phone services are still cut off.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry is contacting its embassy in Tonga through a satellite link. The embassy says its staff are trying to call about 40 Japanese nationals living in the country to confirm their safety. It said the communication infrastructure has been damaged by extensive flooding.

The South Pacific nation is likely to have been the hardest hit by the eruption of an underwater volcano around 65 kilometers north of its capital on Saturday afternoon.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in the US state of Hawaii says tsunamis up to around 80 centimeters high were observed in Tonga.

Tsunamis reached a height of about 1.4 meters in Vanuatu, about 1.1 meters in the French territory of New Caledonia, and some 60 centimeters in American Samoa. Tsunamis over one-meter high were also observed in Chile in South America.

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