HONOLULU (KHON2) — Tongan Olympian Pita Taufatofua, widely recognized after he carried the Tonga flag at the 2016 and 2021 summer Olympics, took to social media to address the recent tsunami and its impact in Tonga.
Days after the devastating volcanic eruption and tsunami, Taufatofua said he’s yet to hear from his father, who is governor of the Ha’apai province.
“All there is at the moment is a couple of satellite phones that allow us to access bits of information coming out of Tonga,” Taufatofua said Monday on “NewsNation Prime.”
NewsNation reports the eruption severed the country’s underwater communications cables and volcanic ash has made the airport’s runway unusable.
Satellite images captured the eruption, showing a plume of ash, followed by steam and gas rising above the South Pacific.
Tsunami waves of about 2.7 feet abruptly crashed into Tonga’s shoreline, and across the Pacific, causing slight damage from New Zealand to Santa Cruz, California.
U.N. humanitarian officials and Tonga’s government “report significant infrastructural damage around Tongatapu,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
“There has been no contact from the Ha’apai Group of islands, and we are particularly concerned about two small, low-lying islands — Mango and Fonoi — following surveillance flights confirming substantial property damage,” Dujarric said.
New Zealand’s High Commission in Tonga reported “significant damage” along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, including to resorts and along the waterfront area.
“When communication comes back on, there’s going to be a country that needs the assistance of of many great nations,” Taufatofua said.
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Taufatofua also created a gofundme account to help raise funds to those most in need, infrastructure and damage to schools, hospitals, and other buildings and agencies.