World rushes aid to tsunami-hit Tonga as drinking water, food runs short - Reuters
Jan 21, 2022 1 min, 2 secs
Members of the Australian Defence Force embark on HMAS Adelaide at the Port of Brisbane before departure to Tonga, in Brisbane, Australia, January 20, 2022.

WELLINGTON/SYDNEY, Jan 21 (Reuters) - As aid trickles into the South Pacific nation of Tonga, devastated by a volcanic eruption and tsunami, an Australian aid flight was forced to return to base due to a positive COVID-19 case onboard, a defence official said on Friday.

The Australian aid flight left Brisbane on Thursday afternoon but was turned around midflight after being notified of the positive COVID-19 case, an Australian defence spokeswoman said.

United Nations spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said in a briefing that Tonga has asked for urgent assistance and the agency is in close contact with the authorities.

"The impact of this volcanic eruption and the subsequent tsunami and the damage the inundation is causing will be an ongoing challenge for Tonga, particularly in relation to infrastructure," she told Australian radio

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has said the force of the eruption was estimated to be the equivalent of five to 10 megatons of TNT, or more than 500 times that of the nuclear bomb the United States dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima at the end of World War Two

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