Speed Reads

help arrives

Planes and ships bring aid to tsunami-ravaged Tonga

Planes carrying aid from Australia, New Zealand, and Japan reached Tonga over the weekend, providing food, water, medical supplies, and communication equipment to the isolated, tsunami-ravaged archipelago, ABC News reported.

It was initially impossible to deliver aid by air because all of the archipelago's airports were either damaged in the disaster or closed due to ashfall.

One Australian aid flight had to abort its mission mid-flight Friday after it was discovered that a person on board had tested positive for COVID-19.

Tonga has so far remained almost entirely free of the virus. The country's only confirmed case to date was detected in an air traveler from New Zealand in October, NPR reported.

The Royal New Zealand Navy's largest ship, NMNZS Aotearoa, arrived Friday, carrying a load of fresh water and a desalination plant capable of purifying 70,000 liters per day.

According to Reuters, Tonga's islands remain blanketed in ash and largely cut off from the outside world as a result of damage to their primary submarine cable.

Tonga was struck by a tsunami and covered with ash after an undersea volcano erupted 40 miles south of the capital city on Jan. 15. At least three people were killed.