Sat, 21 May 2022

WELLINGTON, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand is giving an additional 2 million New Zealand dollars (1.35 million U.S. dollars) in humanitarian funding for Tonga as the country recovers from volcanic eruptions and tsunami, senior officials said on Friday.

This brings New Zealand's contribution to Tonga disaster relief to 3 million New Zealand dollars (2.02 million U.S. dollars), New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a statement.

"This support will enable more crucial supplies, such as drinking water, food supplies, as well as engineering equipment and tools to clear debris, to be sent to Tonga in the coming days and weeks," Mahuta said.

The funding is additional to the 1 million New Zealand dollars (670,000 U.S. dollars) that New Zealand has already allocated as humanitarian aid, she said.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Peeni Henare announced the HMNZS Canterbury would leave Devonport for Tonga overnight as the third New Zealand navy vessel contributed to the disaster relief.

The HMNZS Canterbury will have on board additional stores such as tarpaulins, water containers, milk powder, as well as engineering equipment to clear debris and two NH-90 helicopters, said Henare.

Deliveries will be contactless in accordance with Tonga's COVID-19 protocols and those involved in the relief efforts undergo testing before departure, and while on deployment, he said.

Mahuta said 1.5 million New Zealand dollars (1.01 million U.S. dollars) of the additional 2 million New Zealand dollars (1.35 million U.S. dollars) would go towards deploying more relief supplies on upcoming C-130 relief flights, as well as water generation capability and clean-up equipment.

"This money will also fund relief activity undertaken by local authorities and humanitarian organizations, and other requests from the Tongan government as required," said the foreign minister.

The remaining 500,000 New Zealand dollars (336,527 U.S. dollars) will go towards a New Zealand Disaster Response Partnership round for New Zealand NGOs working with local partners to support Tonga's response efforts, she said.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules carrying relief supplies landed in Tonga on Thursday and more flights are scheduled.

New Zealand's navy ship HMNZS Wellington also arrived in Tonga and hydrographers were immediately deployed to survey approaches to Nuku'alofa. The second ship HMNZS Aotearoa arrived and offloaded humanitarian stores on Friday. Navy divers will also be checking on the integrity of the wharf infrastructure.

Tsunami waves hit Tonga on Saturday following a series of violent volcanic eruptions from underwater Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, 65 km north of the country's main island Tongatapu.

The tsunami had a significant impact on part of the foreshore of Tonga, with boats and large boulders washed ashore and shops along the coast damaged.

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