Australia and Oceania

Eruption-hit Tonga closes borders as Covid detected

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (AFP) – Volcano-devastated Tonga will close its borders Wednesday after Covid-19 was detected in the previously virus-free Pacific kingdom as it struggles to recover from last month’s deadly disaster, officials said. Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said two men tested positive this week in the capital Nuku’alofa and were in isolation. He said the men had been working in the city’s port, where humanitarian aid has been pouring in from around the globe since the […]

6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes off Tonga

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake occurred off the coast of Tonga at 0640 GMT on Thursday, the United States Geological Survey said, with no immediate reports of damage. The epicentre of the strong quake was 219 kilometres (136 miles) northwest of Pangai, a town on the remote island of Lifuka, at a depth of 14.5 kilometres. There were no immediate reports of the quake being felt in Tonga or neighbouring Fiji. The area has seen daily earthquake […]

Covid-hit Australian warship delivers disaster aid to Tonga

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (AFP) — A coronavirus-hit Australian warship docked in Tonga on Wednesday, delivering desperately needed aid to the volcano-and-tsunami-struck nation under strict “no-contact” protocols. Tongan Health Minister Saia Piukala said the crew of the HMAS Adelaide would follow drastic health protocols to ensure the remote Pacific kingdom remains one of the few places in the world still free of Covid-19. “The ship will berth and no contacts will be made. Australians from the ship […]

Tonga eruption equivalent to hundreds of Hiroshimas: NASA

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (AFP) – The Tonga volcanic eruption unleashed explosive forces that dwarfed the power of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, NASA scientists have said, as survivors on Monday described how the devastating Pacific blast “messed up our brains”. The NASA Earth Observatory said the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano spewed debris as high as 40 kilometres (25 miles) into the atmosphere during the January 15 eruption that triggered huge tsunami waves. “We think the amount of […]

Samoa, Kiribati to lock down as virus lands in Pacific

Kiribati and Samoa entered lockdowns Saturday after overseas arrivals brought Covid to the Pacific island nations that had avoided the worst of the pandemic for two years. Until this month, Kiribati hadn’t reported a single virus case, while Samoa had only recorded two since the pandemic began, according to the World Health Organization. But authorities in both countries have been forced to put in place stay-at-home orders after the virus was detected in international arrivals. […]

Djokovic plans 2023 Australian Open return: tournament chief

Novak Djokovic intends to play the Australian Open in 2023, tournament chief Craig Tiley said Sunday while blaming “miscommunication” for his deportation ahead of this year’s event. The world number one’s visa was cancelled ahead of the season-opening Grand Slam over his Covid-19 vaccination status, an incident that tarred the lead-up. He flew out of Melbourne a week ago after failing in a last-gasp bid to stay and target a record 21st major title following […]

First death in Tonga volcano blast as nation remains cut off

by David WILLIAMS / Andrew BEATTY SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — The first death from a massive underwater volcanic blast near the Pacific island nation of Tonga has been confirmed, as the extent of the damage remained unknown Monday. Tonga remained virtually cut off from the rest of the world, after the eruption crippled communications and stalled emergency relief efforts. It is two days since the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano exploded, cloaking Tonga in a film […]

Tonga cut off by volcanic blast, fears grow for coastal towns

by David WILLIAMS / Andrew BEATTY SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — The Pacific Island nation of Tonga was virtually cut off from the rest of the world Monday, after a massive volcanic blast that crippled communications and stalled emergency relief efforts. It is two days since the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano exploded, cloaking Tonga in a film of ash, triggering a Pacific-wide tsunami and releasing shock waves that wrapped around the entire Earth. But with phone […]

Tonga cut off by volcanic blast

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) – Tonga was virtually cut off from the rest of the world Monday after a massive volcanic blast that crippled communications with the Pacific island nation, and experts warned internet connection may not be fully restored for weeks. It is two days since the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haa’pai volcano exploded, cloaking Tonga in ash, triggering a Pacific-wide tsunami and releasing shock waves that wrapped around the entire Earth. But still neighbouring countries and […]

‘Disappointed’ Djokovic says he will leave Australia

Novak Djokovic said Sunday he was “extremely disappointed” by Australia’s decision to deport him but he would comply and leave the country. Hours earlier, three judges at the Federal Court had unanimously dismissed the unvaccinated Serbian superstar’s last-gasp attempt to overturn the government’s cancellation of his visa. “I respect the Court’s ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,” the 34-year-old world number one said in […]

Huge Tonga volcanic eruption caused ‘signifcant damage’

A massive volcanic eruption in Tonga that triggered tsunami waves around the Pacific caused “significant damage” to the island nation’s capital and smothered it in dust, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Sunday. The eruption Saturday was so powerful it was recorded around the world, triggering a tsunami that flooded Pacific coastlines from Japan to the United States. The capital Nuku’alofa suffered “significant” damage, Ardern said, adding there had been no reports of injury […]

Volcanic eruption, earthquake rock Tonga, trigger tsunami threats in the South Pacific

by Alfred Acenas and Arianne Torres (EBC Hawaii-Pacific)   HONOLULU (Eagle News) – A powerful underwater volcanic eruption and 7.6-magnitude earthquake shook the Tonga Islands at 4:26am local time on Saturday, January 15. A tsunami warning was soon issued for all of Tonga by the island nation’s meteorological services agency. Local resident Dr. Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau took to social media to post photographs of the volcano’s violent eruption and waves crashing ashore. He also described the […]