Humanitarian aid is unloaded from a C-17A Globemaster III at airport, near Nuku'alofa, Tonga, Thursday. Photo by LACW Emma Schwenke/RAAF/EPA-EFE
Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Australia, New Zealand, and Japan have delivered aid amid a shortage of drinking water in Tonga in the wake of a 4-foot tsunami after an underwater volcano exploded last week.
The Australian aid also included medicine, clean-up equipment and telecommunications infrastructure, Zed Seselja, minister for International Development and the Pacific, said in an update Saturday morning.
"The Australian donated landing craft VOEA Late has been distributing food, water and shelter to communities in Tonga who need them from Australia's pre-positioned supplies," he tweeted Friday. "Three RAAF [Royal Australian Air Force] flights with additional supplies have now landed to bolster relief efforts."
On Saturday, planes carrying aid from New Zealand and Japan also touched down alongside the Australian flights, Seselja said, and ships from the Unites States and Britain are in transit.
Seselja added that the High Commissioner of Tonga Rachael Moore and her staff have done an "extraordinary job."
"The defense force and others are doing an extraordinary job in the clean-up and coordination," he said.
Seselja also said that the HMAS Adelaide, deployed from Australia, "will arrive in the next few days," as a "major asset," carrying helicopters, engineers, a 40-bed hospital, electricity generators and water purification technology.
Fiji military personnel, consisting of engineers, medics and other specialists, are teaming up with Australia to help with rehabilitation and further assessment in Tonga, Xinhua reported.
Fijian military Commander Maj.-Gen. Ro Jone Kalouniwai told Xinhua on Saturday that the island country's soldiers will be on the ground in a span of 10 days, adding that this is subject to change depending on the extent of rehabilitation required.
The Fijian soldiers have completed their pre-departure isolation period, tested negative for COVID-19 and been fully vaccinated with a booster shot, the commander added.
Some 12,000 households have been affected by the volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami that hit Tonga last weekend, according to estimates by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The U.N. office also confirmed that the economically vital agriculture sector, including crops, livestock and fisheries, suffered substantially, particularly due to ashfall on crops.
Tonga's government confirmed three deaths from the pair of natural disasters.
Families were able to make first contact with their loved ones earlier this week after limited communication was restored, TVNZ 1 News reported. The eruption on Jan. 15, severed Tonga's underwater fiber optic cable that connected the remote nation to the outside world.