Air NZ funeral flight cancelled again as Hunga volcano still erupting

    Air New Zealand has for the second time cancelled its repatriation flight for Tonga following ongoing eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano that spread ash and gas near its main island Tongatapu.

    File image. Photo: Mary Lyn Fonua / AFP

    The airlines has marked as “cancelled” its flight number NZ 1172 Tonga (Nuku´alofa) for today December 28 at 9.40am on its website.

    A post on Facebook page by the Kingdom Travel Centre-Tonga said the flights were rescheduled for Thursday 30.

    This means, the funeral ceremony and cortege of the late Deputy Prime Minister Lord Ma’afu which was expected to be held today in Tonga were cancelled again. His body was still in New Zealand after it was planned to be flown to the kingdom on today’s flight.

    Hunga eruption 

    Information reported on Volcano Discovery website regarding the condition of the Tonga eruption in the last 48 hours said: “Explosive activity continues”.

    “Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Wellington warned about a volcanic ash plume that rose up to estimated 10000 ft (3000 m) altitude or flight level 100 and is moving at 10 kts in NE direction”.

    Tonga lead geologist Taniela Kula told Radio New Zealand International on Christmas eve the volcano’s eruption had decreased.

    Kula said: “This morning (Thursday) we noticed a slow reduction in the amount of gas emitted from Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai but it’s still continuously erupting, but at a lower pace than yesterday.

    “It’s a natural phenomena and we can only observe what comes out of it – [there is] not enough equipment to probe into what’s in the sub-surface of the volcano,” he said.

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