A year after a massive volcanic eruption and tsunami devastated Tonga, the AFP remains committed to working with local communities and partners, including Tonga Police on recovery and reconstruction efforts.
The South Pacific island nation was rocked on 15 January, 2022, by a massive volcanic eruption that triggered a tsunami with waves up to 20m high. The twin impacts of the eruption and tsunami caused widespread damage across the archipelago, with homes destroyed and many communities covered in a thick layer of ash and mud.
The official death toll from the disaster is four while many more were injured and about 1500 people were displaced.
AFP officers from the Mission were on the ground when the waves from the tsunami washed across the capital. They assisted Tonga Police with the immediate rescue effort, patrolling the streets, searching for stranded people and providing first aid to the injured.
The nation’s capital and main port city Nuku’alofa was devastated with major damage to its infrastructure and communication network.
Nearly every official Government building in the city and the AFP residences were extensively damaged.
Tonga’s internet cable was cut in several places, limiting internet access and hampering the rescue and rebuilding efforts, which are ongoing.
The AFP has been working closely with the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Defence Force and DFAT to deliver valuable supplies and materials for this effort over the past year.
AFP Commander Pacific Mel Phelan said the AFP was committed to helping the Tonga Police and local communities rebuild and recover from the disaster.
“Our hearts go out to the Tongan community as they mark the first anniversary of this devastating natural disaster,” Commander Phelan said.
“AFP officers were living and working in Tonga when waves hit and witnessed the power of the ocean and the devastation left in its wake.
“The AFP will provide support to Tonga Police and the wider community wherever it is required.”