The thoughts of New Zealanders are with the people of Tonga following yesterday’s undersea volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami waves, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta says.
“Damage assessments are under way and New Zealand has formally offered to provide assistance to Tonga,” said Nanaia Mahuta.
New Zealand has made an initial $500,000 available to respond to requests from the Government of Tonga as they come in. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NZDF and other New Zealand agencies are working through air and sea options to provide assistance to Tonga.
A New Zealand Defence Force P3 Orion is on standby to provide aerial surveillance and support the Government of Tonga gain visibility of the impact on the outer islands, as soon as atmospheric conditions allow.
“As yet there are no official reports of injuries or deaths. However, communications are limited,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
“The New Zealand High Commission in Nuku‘alofa is monitoring the situation closely and is in contact with local authorities,” said Nanaia Mahuta.
“Anyone in the affected area should follow the advice of the local authorities, including any tsunami evacuation orders, and try to contact their family back in New Zealand,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
“Communications links with Tonga have been disrupted so New Zealanders may have difficulties contacting their whānau in Tonga at this time. Authorities are working as quickly as possible to re-establish communication links,” said Nanaia Mahuta.
New Zealanders in Tonga should stay informed of developments by monitoring local media. There are currently 30 New Zealanders registered on SafeTravel as being in Tonga, and all New Zealanders there should register their details on www.safetravel.govt.nz