Sat, 21 May 2022

SUVA, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Fiji will send military personnel to help Tonga where the violent eruptions of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano over the weekend has caused damages and casualties.

According to a Fijian government statement on Wednesday night, Fiji's Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that Fiji has formally written to Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni to assure that Tonga has Fiji's support as his government looks to respond to their people's immediate needs and, eventually, mount their recovery.

He said that Fiji is working closely with the Australian and New Zealand governments to coordinate a regional relief effort due to Tonga's volcanic eruptions.

Australia has established a communication channel with Tonga's capital city of Nuku'alofa and is preparing to dispatch the HMAS Adelaide frigate to Tonga's shores.

Fiji has offered to airlift disaster-ready Fijian military personnel to ship out with the contingent of Australian troops. These Fijian military personnel are currently in isolation and will be tested prior to departure, he said.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Jone Kalouniwai, Fiji's military commander, said on Wednesday night that the Fijian military contingent is on standby to assist the Tongan government.

The commander said he can confirm that the Australian Defense Force has made available a strategic lift cap to take Fijian troops across to Tonga. However the Tongan government's approval for any deployment to the island nation is still pending.

The Tongan government has so far confirmed three deaths in relation to Saturday's volcanic eruption and all houses on the island of Mango were wiped out.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano is part of the highly active Tonga-Kermadec Islands volcanic arc, a subduction zone extending from New Zealand north-northeast to Fiji. Over the past decades, the volcano has erupted several times.

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