• Crisis Severity ?
    1.3
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    1.9
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    1.0
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    1.2
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    2.0
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Overview

20/01/2022

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano erupted in the Pacific Ocean on 15 January, triggering a tsunami measuring up to 80cm that flooded Tonga island. The eruption sent out volcanic ash, steam, and gas, rising approximately 18km above the volcano and covering parts of the country with ash and smoke. The most affected area is Tongatapu, the main island. As at 18 January, the Government confirmed three fatalities and several injuries, in addition to around 100 houses damaged and 50 destroyed. ?

It is estimated that 75% of the population (up to 80,000 people, including 28,000 children) was affected by the eruption. Based on the number of houses damaged and destroyed, it is estimated that at least 900 people are displaced, most of them staying with relatives. The most urgent need across the island is clean drinking water, as water supplies have been disrupted and contaminated by layers of volcanic ash and salt water. Other needs include food, shelter, WASH, and health. ?

Conducting humanitarian assessments is difficult because all communication lines in the country have been disrupted, and the most affected areas are inaccessible following the tsunami. Phone connections and electricity were down between 15–16 January, and communication with the island remains difficult. Access to the island through flights is on hold because of ash clouds covering the airport.?

Latest Developments

20/01/2022

On 15 January, an underwater volcanic eruption triggered a tsunami, causing flooding in Tonga and affecting an estimated 84,000 people (80% of the population). Around 100 houses were damaged and 50 destroyed, resulting in the displacement of at least 900 people. Most of them are staying with relatives. The most urgent need is clean drinking water due to the contamination of water supplies by volcanic ash and saltwater.?

KEY PRIORITIES

20/01/2022

WASH: Water sources in Tonga have been contaminated by volcanic ash, which can contain heavy metals like copper, cadmium, and arsenic. Sea water that has landed on the island after the tsunami also disrupted water supplies. Mobile water treatment facilities are needed to provide safe drinking water for households.?

Food and Livelihoods: Local fresh fish is among the main sources of food for households in Tonga. The volcanic eruption is likely to affect underwater life and disrupt fisheries, and the price of fish will likely increase. Food rations are among the most urgent needs for households affected by the eruption and the tsunami.?

Shelter: The most shelter needs are reported in Mango and Fonoifua islands: all houses have been destroyed on Mango Island, and only two houses remained on Fonoifua. Temporary tarpaulin shelters are needed to host the affected households. Currently, most of the displaced people are staying with relatives, while others are in temporary shelters.?

Health: There are increasing health concerns, as affected people are likely exposed to breathing volcanic ash or drinking contaminated water. Tonga has been declared a COVID-19-free country, but there is a risk of spreading the virus with aid deliveries arriving from other countries.?