Australian Defence Force is supporting a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)-coordinated mission to support the government of Tonga following the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano on 15 January.
CAPTION: A Royal Australian Air Force P-8 Poseidon departs RAAF Base Amberly to assess damage in Tonga after the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Emma Suchwenke.
A Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon has departed RAAF Base Amberly to conduct an assessment of damage to critical infrastructure such as roads, ports and power lines, which will determine the next phase of the response effort.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K Orion was also scheduled to undertake a reconnaissance flight from RNZAF Base Auckland Whenuapai early this morning, conditions allowing.
Australia and New Zealand are ready to immediately respond to requests for humanitarian-aid assistance.
While communications remain limited, Australian planners continue to receive regular updates through the Australian High Commission in Tonga, with early reports of substantial ash coverage around Nuku’alofa and coastal inundation and damage to infrastructure.
DFAT is seeking to confirm the welfare of Australian citizens, permanent residents and their families in Tonga.
Communications outages are currently making it difficult to contact people.
Those concerned about Australian citizens in Tonga should contact DFAT on 1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305.