Tonga faces digital darkness after severe volcano damage

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano generated large tsunami waves and covering Tonga in toxic ash and killing three.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Wednesday, February 16, 2022, 01:38 PM IST
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Nuku'alofa, Tonga: The volcanic eruption near Tonga shredded an 80-kilometre (50 mile) section of undersea cable, complicating attempts to reconnect the island after a month of digital darkness, the company overseeing repairs informed.

Tonga Cable Limited chief executive James Panuve said a repair ship had located the damaged ends of the 840 kilometre-long cable connecting Tonga to Fiji that was severed in the January 15 blast.

But rather than a clean break, Panuve said the ship found the volcanic eruption tore an 80 kilometre stretch of cable into several pieces as it hammered the seabed with the explosive force of a nuclear bomb.

"It is obvious that the eruption, shockwaves, (and) tsunami caused major havoc underwater," he said Tuesday.

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano generated large tsunami waves and covering Tonga in toxic ash and killing three.

Disaster relief efforts in the pacific nation of about 100,000 have been complicated by bad communications, with backup satellite links giving patchy broadband as the operation to fix the cable continues.

Panuve said that after contending with poor weather conditions last week, the cable repair ship "Reliance" was now trying to find sections of cable in waters up to 2.5 kilometres deep.

He said one section had been moved five kilometres by the undersea explosion and another was buried under 30 centimetres of silt.

International humanitarian assistance continues to arrive, with two Chinese ships this week delivering 1,300 tonnes of supplies, including 500 prefabricated houses.

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