On Fonoifua island, as of 20 January:
🔹 30 structures appear as damaged and/or destroyed and 7 as potentially damaged
🔹 the entire island appears to be covered with ash
➡️https://t.co/v1oAi9fhjU#HungaTongaHungaHaapai #TongaVolcano#TongaTsunami pic.twitter.com/LQK0s3H1hz
— UNOSAT (@UNOSAT) January 20, 2022
Around 60 to 70 per cent of livestock-rearing households have seen their animals perish, grazing land damaged, or water supplies contaminated.
Fisheries operating across the more than 170 islands that make up the archipelago, have also been significantly affected and the Government has advised against fishing amidst the ongoing contamination, or consuming fish.
Initial Damage Assessments (IDAs) are underway on the main island, Tongatapu, as well as on islands of the Ha’apai group, by Tonga’s National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) and partners.
Most parts of the country, including remote and isolated islands, have also been visited by assessment teams, said OCHA.
So far, five communities in Tongatapu have been identified as having suffered significant damage to households in coastal areas. Around 31 houses are completely damaged, 72 severely, 46 moderately, and 23 suffered minor damage.
According to OCHA, there are still serious concerns about access to safe water and the quality of groundwater.
The capital’s water supply is safe to drink but most people are now relying on bottled water. Authorities have advised residents against drinking rainwater, until more information is available.
Local and international partners are working hard to address these issues, shipping water, purification units and desalination equipment.
Another main issue going forward, according to OCHA, is monitoring the risk of infectious diseases.
There are also reports of a fuel shortage, but petrol supplies are coming as part of regular shipment and with some additional Australian Government support.
As regards to public health concerns, the hospital and the national pharmacy in the capital are intact and fully functioning. There are some reports, OCHA noted, of damage to some health centres in Tongatapu, ‘Eua and Ha’apai.
In terms of international connectivity, it is still limited, but the situation is gradually improving, the humanitarian coordination agency said.
Among other initiatives, a ship is on its way to fix the badly damaged underwater communication cable – the country’s sole fixed link to the outside world – but that work might take several weeks to be completed. Communication with outer islands remains very limited.
Through the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster, the World Food Programme (WFP) is helping the process of re-establishing communications, particularly telephone and internet services.