Tonga tsunami: Runway ash hampers relief efforts
Ash cloaking a runway has hampered relief efforts to Tonga, as the scale of the damage from a volcanic eruption and a tsunami becomes clear.
New Zealand is trying to send clean drinking water and other supplies but planes cannot land at the main airport.
Aid agencies say some of Tonga’s small outlying islands have suffered substantial damage.
Two people have been reported dead, but with communications limited there are fears the true toll could be higher.
An underwater volcano erupted on Saturday, showering Tonga with ash and triggering a tsunami.
On Tuesday New Zealand foreign affairs minister Nanaia Mahuta said that “water is among the highest priorities for Tonga at this stage”.
Aid agencies say it is likely that volcanic dust and the tsunami had contaminated Tonga’s water supplies.
But the ash, that has turned Tonga’s normally lush green landscape into a muddy brown, needs to be cleared before New Zealand’s planes can land.
A group of Tongans have been sweeping the ash off the runway, according to reports.
It is likely to take at least until Wednesday before the runway is clear.
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