20 January, 2022

UPDATE: 17 February 2022

On Sunday 6 February, Tonga entered a 14-day lockdown to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. As an essential service, ADRA’s response was permitted to continue, though the roll out of services has been adjusted to comply with lockdown restrictions. Over 700 affected households on the islands of Tongatapu, Fonoi, Tungua, Nomuga, Pangai, Haafeva, Mango, Matuku, Atata and Eua will be assisted with multi-purpose cash from ADRA and the Seventh-day Adventist Church for their immediate needs.

“Communications have been irregular and difficult,” says ADRA South Pacific director Greg Young. “But over the past number of days it has been inspiring to hear of the resilience of the Tongan people and how they are stepping up from all levels of society to support those in need.”

A long-term recovery component of agricultural livelihoods is planned and expected to be implemented by March.

UPDATE: 1 February 2022

Our team in Tonga is currently on the ground responding. We have started distributing cash assistance to families in Mango and Atata islands, allowing families to meet their greatest needs. Over the next few days, we will continue travelling to some of the worst-affected islands to help people in need. Please pray for our volunteers and the families they are supporting. You can give to our response: adra.org.au/disaster.

Photo: Tonga SDA Mission

UPDATE: 24 January 2022

Over the weekend we were able to establish communication with our partners on the ground and hear first-hand about the devastating impact.

Over 80% of the Tongan population has been affected.

The greatest concern is a lack of safe drinking water and food, which has been contaminated with volcanic ash or washed away by the tsunami.

ADRA is responding. Your gift today will provide support to the most vulnerable through immediate cash assistance. A cash gift allows families to meet their most urgent needs, whether that is access to clean water, shelter or food. And, your donation today will also support long-term recovery through agricultural support.

In collaboration with the Tongan Seventh-day Adventist network, volunteers on the ground are visiting affected areas. Hundreds of families are unable to return home. And for those that have, they are returning to damaged homes, no electricity and destroyed crops.​​​ Please keep the people of Tonga and ADRA’s Tonga response in your prayers.

Tonga Response - Families survey the damage after the tsunami

Locals in Nuku’alofa, The Kingdom of Tonga, survey the damage. Source: Consulate of the Kingdom of Tonga

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On January 15, an underground volcano near the island nation of Tonga erupted, triggering a tsunami.

The eruption at the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano is estimated to have exerted a force equivalent to 1,000 Hiroshima nuclear bombs. The eruption was heard more than 750km away in Fiji.

Damages to the underwater communication cable have caused a communication blackout in Tonga. ADRA is working with local groups to establish communication through a satellite phone.

But from what authorities have been able to learn, the situation is dire.

ADRA's Tonga Response - A giant ash cloud exploding into the sky, surrounded by ocean

Credit: AFP Tonga Geological Services – Eyepress

So far, three deaths have been reported, contamination of tank water from volcanic ash is an issue, and store supplies are running short due to a rush to stock up. At least two islands are being evacuated.

​​​ADRA is standing by, ready to respond.

Right now, Tonga is covered in a cloud of volcanic ash and dust, limiting the effects of surveillance flights. But it is expected that the greatest needs will be access to clean water, food, and shelter.

ADRA will be responding as soon as communication is restored, the greatest needs have been assessed, and access to the island nation is established.

Your donation now will help ensure we are ready to help as soon as we can.

Up until this point, Tonga has been largely untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining the safety of its citizens while providing life-saving support is a priority. Please, keep Tonga, the Tonga response and those affected in your prayers.

We will keep you updated with more information as it becomes available.

To help us be prepared to respond as soon as contact is made, please donate at adra.org.au/disaster