By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
NUKU’ALOFA (Worthy News) – Tonga says it has been hit by an “unprecedented disaster,” with the government confirming at least three deaths following an underwater volcanic eruption and tsunami.
The victims on the Pacific island nation were identified as two locals and a British national.
The dead British person was believed to be Angela Glover, 50, who ran an animal rescue center and was swept away by a wave, her brother said.
Nick Eleini said his sister’s body had been found and that her husband survived. “I understand that this terrible accident came about as they tried to rescue their dogs,” Eleini told Sky News television.
He said it had been his sister’s life dream to live in the South Pacific, and “she loved her life there.
Officials said some of Tonga’s smaller outlying islands in the Pacific Ocean were severely affected, with all the hundreds of houses destroyed on one and just two left on another.
Additionally, United Nations humanitarian officials and Tonga’s government “report significant infrastructural damage around Tongatapu,” the main island in the archipelago, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
“There has been no contact from the Ha’apai Group of islands, and we are particularly concerned about two small low-lying islands – Mango and Fonoi – following surveillance flights confirming substantial property damage,” Dujarric added.
The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean when it erupted with a blast heard 2,300 km (1,430 miles) away in New Zealand.
Aid efforts to bring in water and food were hampered by ash falling from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano.
Volunteers struggled to sweep and clear a runway at Tonga’s main airport as ash prevented flights from landing.
Two New Zealand navy vessels carrying disaster relief were to arrive in Tonga on Friday, the first international supplies to reach the troubled country, authorities said.
New Zealand’s foreign ministry said the Tongan government had approved the arrival of HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Aotearoa.
However, officials cautioned that worries about a potential coronavirus outbreak in the currently COVID-19 free country were likely to complicate relief efforts.
“The vessels are expected to arrive in Tonga by Friday, depending on weather conditions,” the ministry added in published remarks.
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