Tonga: Volcanic Eruption/Tsunami
One of the largest eruptions of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha-apai underwater volcano in the past 30 years occurred on 15 January 2022. The eruption generated tsunami waves rising up to 15 metres, which hit the west coasts of Tongatapu Islands, 'Eua, and Ha'apai Islands. About 84,000 people—more than 80 percent of Tonga’s population—were impacted by the volcano’s eruption.
The eruption caused severe disruption to communications in and from Tonga, as the undersea fibre communications cable connecting Tonga to the world and its own islands was severed in two locations. As of 22 February, the international section of the undersea communications cable has been repaired. Data, SMS, and voice services provided by the two national providers in Tonga—Digicel and the Tonga Communications Corporation (TCC)—are now available on Tongatapu.
However, communication with the outer islands of Tonga remains a challenge as the domestic section of cable—also damaged during the volcanic eruption—has not yet been repaired. The domestic cable repairs will take until late 2022.
The ETC continues to support the response in Tonga until national communications services are fully restored.
The emergency telecommunications response in Tonga is led by the national ETC lead—the Tongan Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC).
All relief items delivered in Tongatapu continue to be held in the government relief supply warehouse for 72 hours before being released, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
If you have information to share, please send any details to Pacific.ETC@wfp.org