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Pacific News Minute: Tonga recovering from physical and psychological impacts of the eruption

Tonga Volcano Eruption January 2022
CPL Vanessa Parker/AP
New Zealand Defense Force
In this photo provided by the New Zealand Defense Force, volcanic ash covers roof tops and vegetation in an area of Tonga, Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. (CPL Vanessa Parker/NZDF via AP)

Many families in Tonga have stopped their children from playing outside as the country continues to deal with ash and the psychological fallout of the recent volcanic eruption and tsunami.

Communication with the outside world still remains difficult in Tonga, with few internet services and the outlying islands still cut off from phone service.

The Red Cross says it has been providing not only tents, food and water to more than 170 households on the main island of Tongatapu, but emotional support as well.

Drew Havea, vice president of Tonga Red Cross, tells Reuters that although some residents from the worst affected outlying islands have been evacuated, others have been refusing to leave.

He says the psychological impact of waves rushing through and destroying villages will affect their lives for some time.

The eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean and was even heard some 6,000 miles away in Alaska.

Mary Lyn Fonua, the managing editor of the news website Matangi Tonga Online, says it took a week for many people to recover from the "pulsating, terrifying" sound of the eruption.

The Guardian reports a New Zealand relief flight arrived with telecommunications equipment to re-establish limited internet connection.

With limited power, the website was able to post its first story since the massive eruption.

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