King Tupou VI has offered sympathy and prayers to all those who lost relatives in last weekend’s Tongan volcano eruption and tsunami disaster or are still waiting for news about their families.
He said the whole of Tonga was devastated by the tsunami and it wiped out some of the islands, homes, plantations and possessions.
His Majesty’s first speech to address the nation following last week’s volcanic eruption has been delivered in Tongan in a video clip which was shared on Facebook last night as New Zealand and international aid programmes have stepped up.
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The tsunami on Saturday killed three people and injured many. Waves of up to 15 metres flattened houses and caused extensive damage to Tongatapu’s western district.
It wiped out the islands of Mango, Fonoifua and ‘Atatā.
The king mentioned some biblical texts in his attempt to encourage his people to stand together to rebuild the nation.
“Let’s start with Jehovah as Jehovah is our refuge”, the king said referring to Psalm 91 of the Bible.
Facing new challenges
He said he could not say whether the natural disaster’s damage itself was less than the damage it caused to the environment and the evacuation of the people “as there was supreme over all in nature”.
“But it is astonishing, and I am grateful that the death toll was at a minimum,” the king said.
“While we feel and sympathise with immediate families and relatives of the deceased, we have been facing new challenges,” the king said.
He said the Armed Forces’ boats which transported people from the islands were affected by the pumice stones from the volcanic eruptions.
He said the people of ‘Eua valued their wharf more than their airport. And that was because that was what they mostly used for transportation and trade.
“In times of trouble, people stand together so they could withstand the consequences,” the king said.
“It is not who have much money or assistance from overseas but the will of the people
“It is the determination to live on top of believing in God and show love, helping each other, have patience and be self-possessed”.
“In the aftermath of the disaster, we have to all stand up and work,” he said.
“It is our nation and the place where we grew up and it is only you and me who would treasure that”.
The king congratulated people from other countries and various partnerships, churches and businesses for helping Tonga.
Aid is coming from Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United States. New Zealand’s Defence Force continues to coordinate with its partners.
New Zealand aid stepped up
HMNZS Aotearoa berthed today at Nuku’alofa port following successful wharf and harbour inspections conducted by Navy divers and hydrographers on board HMNZS Wellington.
Hydrographers were deployed to survey approaches to Nuku’alofa after the Wellington’s arrival, with Navy divers also conducting checks on the integrity of wharf infrastructure.
Once Aotearoa arrived, Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) stores, including bulk water supplies, were being offloaded as a priority and will undergo appropriate covid-19 sanitation by Tongan authorities.
Aotearoa is also able to provide continuous water supply while it is berthed.
HMNZS Canterbury was due to depart Devonport Naval Base tonight and is expected to arrive in Tonga early next week.
Supplies on board Canterbury include water, tarpaulins and milk powder. Vehicles and several containers of construction equipment are also on board.
Another C130 Hercules flight is also set to depart Auckland on Saturday with more stores on board.
Asia Pacific Report collaborates with Kaniva News.