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Tonga struggles with ash, psychological trauma after eruption and tsunami

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This photo taken on January 16, 2022 shows destroyed beach resorts in the Hihifo district of Tonga’s main island Tongatapu following the January 15 eruption of the nearby Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano.

TONGA: Families have stopped children playing outside as Tonga struggles to deal with ash and the psychological fallout of last week’s volcanic eruption and tsunami, aid workers and residents said.

Communication with the outside world remained difficult on Sunday, with few internet services, and outlying islands still cut off from the phone service.

The Red Cross said it was providing not only tents, food, water and toilets to 173 households on Tonga’s main island, but also comfort.

“Everyone is still struggling right now,” said Drew Havea, the vice president of Tonga Red Cross. Because of the ash, “families are making sure their kids are not playing outside, that they are all indoors”, he said. Although some residents from the worst affected outlying islands in Ha’apai had been evacuated to the main island Tongatapu, others were refusing to leave, Havea said. The psychological impact of waves rushing through and destroying villages will affect their lives for some time, he said. There was another worry shared by many in Tonga, he said.

“Every kid grew up, in your geography lesson you were taught this is the Ring of Fire where we are all living. Now I think that we are quite concerned and start thinking, ‘How active are these places?” he told Reuters.

The eruption of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano, which sits on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean and was heard some 2,300 kms (1,430 miles) away in New Zealand.

The eruption was so powerful that space satellites captured not only huge clouds of ash but also an atmospheric shockwave that radiated out from the volcano at close to the speed of sound. – NDTV

Tuesday, January 25, 2022 – 01:00

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