Families have stopped children from playing outside as Tonga struggles to cope with the ash and psychological effects of last week’s volcanic eruption and tsunami, aid workers and local residents said. Telephone service disrupted.
The Red Cross said it was providing 173 homes on Tonga’s main island with not only tents, food, water and toilets but also comfort. “Everyone still has problems right now,” said Drew Hewa, vice president of the Tonga Red Cross.
Because of the ash, “families make sure their kids don’t play outside, everyone is inside,” he said.
Residents of some of Hapai’s most affected islands were evacuated to the main island of Tongatapu, although others refused to go, Hewa said. The psychological effects of breaking waves and destroying villages will affect their lives for a while, he said. “All the kids grew up, they were taught in their geography class that this is the ring of fire in which we all live.
Now I think we are very worried and we are starting to think, ‘How active are these places? He told Reuters. The eruption of the Hangatonga Hungahapai volcano on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire triggered tsunami waves in the Pacific Ocean and was heard about 2,300 km (1,430 miles) away in New Zealand.
The eruption was so powerful that space satellites captured not only huge ash clouds, but also atmospheric shock waves that came out of the volcano at the speed of sound.
“I felt the world was coming to an end,” recalls John Tukuafu, owner of the beach resort Wakaloa, who had to rush to rescue his wife from the tsunami.
The resort was in Kanokupolu, one of the most affected areas in Tongatapu. And uprooted trees and debris are now in the area where the complex was located. It has taken a week for many to recover from the “throbbing and terrifying” sound of the blast, he said.
“It was loud enough to be heard, but I could feel it. Until the big bang,” she told Reuters by phone on Sunday. The leaves on the tree had turned brown and were falling off.
Fonua said she was in the seafront office when she was talking on the phone with her son in New Zealand when the tsunami struck and when the line died, she feared she had been swept away.
Many Tongan families abroad have long been concerned about the days it took to restore limited international call capacity.
Cut off from the world, Tongans moved forward with immediate rescue efforts, Fonua said.
Older Tongans, who have a tradition of self-reliance, commented that young people were forced to stop looking at their smart phones and that they jumped into action, she said.
A week after power was restored, the Matangi Tonga website posted its first story on Saturday after the eruption and tsunami, describing “pumice rain” as volcanic debris fell from the sky, and waves surrounded the car.
However, her office could not send the email and Tonga needed more satellite capability, Fonua said.
She said international naval ships and flights brought much-needed supplies and communications equipment.