Disasters & Accidents

Tonga reconnects to world after undersea cable repair

Sydney, Australia, Feb 22 (EFE).- Communication was restored on Tuesday to the South Pacific island nation of Tonga, hit by a devastating tsunami last month, after the repair of an undersea cable that was ruptured by the natural disaster.

Digicel Tonga, one of the companies that owns the cable, said Tuesday in a statement that its customers are once again “connected to the outside world” as connectivity was restored in the main island Tongatapu and nearby Eua after the undersea cable repairs.

“We have learnt some tough lessons and we know how important internet connection is to our people,” CEO Anthony Seuseu said.

“We are delighted to see that our customers are connected to the outside world again and we want to thank you for your patience,” he added.

The island nation, with a population of around 120,000, was devastated on Jan. 15 by waves up to 15 meters high caused by the violent eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai submarine volcano, whose ash contaminated the country’s aquifers.

Tonga remained cut-off for several days, increasing uncertainty about the impact of the natural disaster, which affected more than 80 percent of the population and claimed three lives.

In early February, a submarine repair vessel arrived in the area where the fiber-optic cable linking Tonga to neighboring Fiji, and then the rest of the world, had been broken and took about three weeks to repair it.

The twin catastrophe in Tonga, a Covid-free country until weeks ago, was followed by the first community outbreak of the pandemic linked to the arrival of humanitarian aid, mostly from Australia and New Zealand, despite enforcing contactless delivery.

The Tongan government began on Monday to ease restrictions, including a lockdown, although it maintains a night-time curfew. EFE


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