KOMPAS.com - An underwater cable that provides the Pacific island nation of Tonga with most of its telecommunication links with the rest of the world will need at least a month to be repaired following the recent volcanic eruption, the New Zealand government said on Wednesday, Jan. 19
The Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano erupted on Saturday dispersing a thick layer of ash across large parts of the island nation and causing a destructive tsunami that was felt as far away as Peru, Chile, and the United States.
The cable is broken in two places and will require extensive repairs.
“US cable company SubCom advises it will take at least four weeks for Tonga’s cable connection to be repaired,” the New Zealand government said.
International mobile phone network operator Digicel said it had set up an interim connection via satellite, but this would be “limited and patchy, covering about 10 percent of usual capacity.”
However, the lack of digital and telecom communications is not the only problem facing Tonga.
An aircraft laden with water, generators, and hygiene kits is ready to fly from New Zealand, but cannot take off until the runway at the main island’s international airport is cleared of a thick layer of volcanic ash. Australia also has aircraft ready to fly.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that a blanket of ash 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 inches) thick had accumulated on the runway.