Tonga left largely uncontactable after tsunami as telephone and internet lines severed

Tsunami-hit Tonga has remained largely uncontactable due to telephone and internet links being severed.

An underwater volcano off Tonga erupted yesterday, triggering warnings of 1.2-metre tsunami waves and evacuation orders on the shores of the island and several others in the South Pacific.

The eruption caused internet and phone lines to go down at about 6.40pm local time on Saturday, leaving the 105,000 residents on the islands virtually uncontactable to people in other nations.

So far, there are no official reports of injuries or deaths in Tonga.

However, communications are limited and so contact has not been made with coastal areas beyond the capital Nuku’alofa.

Tonga is located 2,383 kilometres (1,481 miles) northeast of New Zealand.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “Nuku’alofa is covered in thick plumes of volcanic dust but otherwise conditions are calm and stable.

“We have not yet received news from other coastal areas.”

Ms Ardern later said the main undersea communications cable was affected, most likely because of the loss of power.

However, the Prime Minister also said power was being restored in some areas on the islands and local mobile phones were slowly starting to work.

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Satellite images captured the volcanic eruption on Saturday as the explosion sent plumes of smoke into the air and about 12 miles above the sea level.

Concerns were also growing among the Tongan community in New Zealand, who were desperate to make contact with their families back home.

Maikeli Atiola, the Secretary of the Wesleyan Church of Tonga in Auckland, said: “We pray God will help our country at this sad moment. We hope everybody is safe.”

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