More ships and aircraft carrying aid are due to arrive in Tonga in the coming days as the international community responds to calls for urgent assistance from the Pacific island nation following a devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami.
A New Zealand maritime sustainment vessel, the HMNZS Aotearoa, carrying 250,000 litres of water and able to produce 70,000 litres per day through a desalination plant, is expected to arrive in Tonga on Friday.
Two Japanese C-130H aircraft carrying aid supplies, including water, also left Komaki Air Base in Aichi Prefecture for Tonga on Thursday and is expected to arrive on Friday.
United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a briefing that Tonga has asked for urgent assistance and the agency is in close contact with the authorities.
Some 60,000 people have been affected by damage to crops, livestock, and fisheries due to ashfall, saltwater intrusion and the potential for acid rain, Dujarric said.
Australia’s foreign minister Marise Payne said on Friday that cash donations to Tonga for immediate humanitarian supplies – Australia has donated $1m – would need to be followed with more substantial support for rebuilding.