Japanese ASDF plane carrying water arrives in stricken Tonga

A C-130 transport plane sent by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force carrying drinking water arrived in Tonga on Saturday after an underwater volcanic eruption and tsunami hit the Pacific island nation over the weekend last.

The plane left Komaki Air Base in central Japan on Thursday with drinking water prepared by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, a government-linked aid agency. He landed at an Australian air base on Friday before taking off for Tonga on Saturday morning.

Airport officials check a shipment of drinking water that was unloaded from a Japan Air Self-Defense Force C-130 transport plane at an airport in Tonga on January 22, 2022. (Photo released with the courtesy of the Japan Joint Chiefs of Staff) (Kyodo)

The ASDF is sending another C-130 loaded with drinking water and two C-2 transport planes to the tsunami-stricken country as part of Japan’s relief effort.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force transport vessel Osumi is also set to depart for Tonga to deliver pressure washers and handcarts which will be used for volcanic ash disposal.

Australia and New Zealand have also sent planes and transport ships loaded with aid to those affected by the disaster.

The eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano on January 15 sent tsunami waves into the Pacific, killing at least three people in Tonga and causing extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure.

Tonga’s water supply has been disrupted by volcanic ash and salt water, and ensuring access to clean water is “an immediate and essential priority”, according to the International Federation of Red Cross Societies and the Red Crescent.

Meanwhile, the Tongan government said on Friday that a total of 14 people were injured in the eruption and tsunami, releasing a relevant figure for the first time since the disaster.

He added that 84% of the approximately 107,000 people who live on the island nation would have been affected by the ashfall and tsunami.

The government also said all three deaths so far were the result of the tsunami.

Although water remains the main demand item, the government has said that the water supply has been tested and groundwater and clean rainwater are safe to drink.

Internet connection was also interrupted in Tonga after the tsunami severed an undersea fiber optic cable. The government said a New Zealand plane carrying equipment to restore a limited internet connection had arrived and a ship was due to arrive in the “coming days” to repair the cable.

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