Tongan eruption: Mango residents face year away from home

By 1news.co.nz and is republished with permission.

As Tonga continues to pick up the pieces after last week’s volcanic eruption and tsunami, the survivors on Mango Island have virtually become refugees on the kingdom’s main island.

New images show Tongans covered in ash after eruption

Images have emerged of how residents of Mango, north east of the main island of Tongatapu, survived the deadly eruption.

Every structure on the island was wiped out. Some residents were found covered in mud and ash while taking shelter where they could.

One person, 65-year-old Telai Tutu’ila, died on the island.

The residents have been evacuated to Tongatapu with emotions running high when the residents were met by the Tongan Prime Minister and his cabinet.

Marian Kupu of media agency Broadcom Broadcasting, based in Nuku’alofa, told 1News most of Mango’s residents had lived on their island for their entire lives.

She said that meant Tongatapu was like “an alien country for them”.

“To be taken away from their island to come here to a new place, for them, it’s just devastating.”

For now, they’re being cared for in a church hall. It’s estimated they won’t be able to return to their home island for at least a year.

The most immediate need across the kingdom continued to be cash to buy supplies like food and water.

Kupu said queues were forming around banks and money transfer agents, as people try to get access to their savings and financial support donated by their families from around the world.

The New Zealand Government was looking at bringing those most affected by the natural disaster to Aotearoa to be with family.

Others were determined to rebuild in Tonga.

John Tukuafu, the owner of Vakaloa Beach Resort in Kanokupolu, is among them. His village, located on the west coast of Tongatapu, was hit hard.

“All we ask is for people out there to keep praying for us. Keep staying positive,” Tukuafu said.

The King of Tonga has offered land from one of his estates on higher ground for Kanokupolu residents to rebuild on.

An estimated 85 per cent of Tonga’s population had been impacted by the eruption and tsunami.

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