90% of power back on main Tonga island, undersea cable still severed

While 90 per cent of power is back on Tonga’s main island following the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami, repairing the undersea cable linking the island nation to the outside world is taking longer than expected, a UN spokesman said.

On the main island of Tongatapu, 90 per cent of power has been restored and efforts continue to clean up ash and to distribute aid to people in need, Xinhua news agency quoted Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as saying.

However, UN teams report that the damage to the underwater communications cable is greater than estimated, with repairs to communications expected to take longer than originally anticipated. Work continues to repair communications on the other islands as well, he told a regular briefing.

The spokesman said the world body provides satellite phones to allow government staff to communicate.

He said UN teams based in Tonga and Fiji continue to support recovery after the massive volcanic eruption on January 15, which affected more than 80 percent of Tonga’s population of about 100,000.

The International Organization for Migration said more than 1,500 people remain displaced.

The Unicef is shipping from Fiji to Tonga sanitation supplies, such as latrines, helping more than 1,000 families.

The World Health Organization works with the government and partners on psychosocial health, water and air safety and the World Food Programme assists on the food front, said Haq.

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