UN / TONGA UPDATE

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18-Jan-2022 00:02:32
The United Nations Resident Coordinator for the Pacific Islands Jonathan Veitch said all UN staff in Tonga is “accounted for” and “stepping up” efforts to coordinate the response to the Hunga Tonga volcano eruption and subsequent Tsunami. UNIFEED

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STORY: UN / TONGA UPDATE
TRT: 02:32
SOURCE: UNIFEED
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DATELINE: 18 JANUARY 2022, NEW YORK CITY / FILE

SHOTLIST:

FILE - NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, exterior UN Headquarters

18 JANUARY 2022, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, press room with United Nations Resident Coordinator for the Pacific Islands Jonathan Veitch on screen
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Jonathan Veitch, Resident Coordinator for the Pacific Islands, United Nations:
“All UN staff in Tonga are accounted for and safe. The UN has one international staff and 22 national staff across eight entities based in Tonga and we're stepping up our efforts now to coordinate the response to the tsunami, to the events of the last few days.”
4. Med shot, journalists
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Jonathan Veitch, Resident Coordinator for the Pacific Islands, United Nations:
“Communications both national and international have been severed due to damage sustained by the submarine cables. The Internet remains down as of this morning and only as of yesterday, some slight communication was established with some of the outer islands through satellite phones and, and HF radios.”
6. Med shot, spokesperson
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Jonathan Veitch, Resident Coordinator for the Pacific Islands, United Nations:
“The health team is there, and they have some relief items including water, food and tents. And yesterday, another ship was sent to a second island with additional resources. Sadly, as you will have seen, perhaps on satellite images, it seems that thousands, all houses, were destroyed on Mango Island, and we have to count exactly how many that isn't an exactly what the population was that's been displaced and evacuated.”
8. Wide shot, press room with Veitch on screen
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Jonathan Veitch, Resident Coordinator for the Pacific Islands, United Nations:
“Clearing up operation continues and has made quite good progress in the in the airport but it's still not sufficient to be able to land aircraft. Our priorities remain to establish communication, immediate shelter needs, and supporting access to safe water.”
9. Med shot, reporter
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Jonathan Veitch, Resident Coordinator for the Pacific Islands, United Nations:
“We believe that we will be able to send flights with supplies, we're not sure that we can send flights with personnel. And the reason for this is that Tonga has a very strict COVID free policy. They're one of the few countries in the world that's remained COVID free.”
11. Wide shot, press room with Veitch on screen

STORYLINE:

The United Nations Resident Coordinator for the Pacific Islands Jonathan Veitch today (18 Jan) said all UN staff in Tonga is “accounted for” and “stepping up” efforts to coordinate the response to the Hunga Tonga volcano eruption and subsequent Tsunami.

The UN has one international staff and 22 national staff across eight entities based in Tonga.

The Resident Coordinator, briefing virtually from Fiji told reporters in New York that “communications both national and international have been severed due to damage sustained by the submarine cables.”

He said, “the Internet remains down as of this morning and only as of yesterday, some slight communication was established with some of the outer islands through satellite phones and, and HF radios.”

Veitch said, “all houses were destroyed on Mango Island, and we have to count exactly how many that isn't an exactly what the population was that's been displaced and evacuated.”

He told journalists that despite “good progress” in clearing debris at Tonga’s main airport “it's still not sufficient to be able to land aircraft,” adding, “our priorities remain to establish communication, immediate shelter needs, and supporting access to safe water.”

The Resident Cooefinator said, “we believe that we will be able to send flights with supplies, we're not sure that we can send flights with personnel. And the reason for this is that Tonga has a very strict COVID free policy. They're one of the few countries in the world that's remained COVID free.”

According to a Tongan Government press release there have been three fatalities recorded so far, a British national, and two Tongan nationals.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that many people are still missing, whilst around 90 people headed to safety in evacuation centres on the island of Eua, and many others fled to the homes of friends and family.

On the main island of Tongatapu, around 100 houses have been damaged, and 50 completely destroyed.

The agency pointed out that it is still in the process of collecting information about the scale of destruction, and it has not been possible to contact any of the islands of the Ha’apai et Vava’u chains.

The Mango and Fonoi islands, which form part of the Ha’apai chain, are a particular cause for concern, and on the small island of Nomuka, one of the closest to the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano, 41 of 104 visible structures have been damaged, and almost all are covered by ash, although the Centre notes that this assessment remains to be verified by teams on the ground.

The volcanic eruption was the largest recorded in thirty years. A huge, 20 km high mushroom cloud of smoke and ash was followed by a tsunami, and the eruption was heard as far away as Australia and New Zealand, causing tsunami warnings across the Pacific.

Waves as high as 1.2 metres hit the capital, Nuku’alofa, whose inhabitants fled to high ground, leaving behinds flooded houses, whilst rocks and ash rained from the sky.
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