New Zealand Air Force Sends Flight to Assess Tonga Damage

New Zealand on Jan. 17 has dispatched an air force plane to Assess the damage caused by the eruption of undersea volcano in Tonga.

“A Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion aircraft has left Base Auckland this morning for Tonga to assist in an initial impact assessment of the area and low-lying islands,” the New Zealand Defense Force said.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted for eight minutes on Jan. 15, covering the Pacific islands in ash, triggering a tsunami, and cutting power and communications.

There are no official reports of injuries and deaths so far, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

New Zealand Acting High Commissioner in Tonga Peter Lund said that the Tonga capital Nuku’alofa resembled a “moonscape” after being coated in a layer of volcanic ash.

Satellite images suggest some outlying islands have been submerged in seawater, BBC News reported.

Ardern said that a priority is the supply of water for Tonga as dust is reportedly contaminating supplies.

Ardern said that power is being restored in some parts of the island, but authorities are still trying to make communication in some smaller islands.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told BBC News that up to 80,000 people could be affected by the eruption.

The tsunami triggered by the eruption reached as far as Japan, South America, and the United States, where flooding hit coastal parts of Alaska and California.

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