Caritas launches appeal to help Tonga

A photo released by the New Zealand Defence Force shows a part of Tonga blanketed in ash (BBC/NZ Defence Force)

Caritas Australia is raising funds to support communities affected by the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai undersea volcano in Tonga.

Tonga is covered in a thick blanket of ash following the January 15 eruption, which cut telecommunications to the tiny Pacific nation, triggered tsunamis across the region and contaminated water supplies.

Caritas Australia is working to restore communications with Caritas Tonga to determine the most urgent needs.

“This volcanic eruption was up there with the likes of Krakatoa in terms of scale, so we are extremely concerned about the impacts of the eruption and tsunami in Tonga,” said Damaris Pfendt, Caritas Australia’s Pacific Humanitarian Coordinator.

“Volcanic ash and saltwater inundation from the tsunami waves have contaminated water supplies, so many communities will be left without clean water. Tonga already struggles with clean water supplies because it relies on groundwater and rainwater, so this will put communities in a really difficult position.”

“From the few updates that have come through, we know that the devastation is significant, especially for the outer islands. There is an urgent need for fresh water and shelter, especially for the communities on the coastline whose homes were damaged by the tsunami waves. Roads and bridges have also been damaged.”

“Thankfully Caritas Tonga already has emergency supplies pre-positioned in the capital and the Ha’apai islands, so they will be able to respond quickly to immediate needs with these supplies. However, it’s crucial that we step up and support our neighbours in Tonga, as they recover from this devastating volcanic eruption.”

Caritas Australia is currently raising funds through its Pacific Emergency Appeal. Details:


Tonga blanketed in ash after volcanic eruption (Caritas Australia) 

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