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NZ family who own Tongan resort lucky to escape tsunami


A popular resort in Tonga has been wiped out by the tsunami caused by the country’s underwater volcanic eruption.

Karyn Goddard’s brother in New Zealand owns the Ha’atafu resort in Tonga and was staying with his daughter and her husband, who now manage the hotel.

When the tsunami hit, the family helped evacuate guests and tried to get out themselves.

A NZ family-owned resort in Tonga has been destroyed by the tsunami.
The resort was destroyed by the tsunami. (9News)
A NZ family-owned resort in Tonga has been wiped out by the tsunami.
A NZ family-owned resort in Tonga has been wiped out by the tsunami. (9News)

“They had some people in their resort, they had to get them out first and get their family out,” Ms Goddard said.

“So by the time they went to get into their car to go, their car had already been swept out to sea.”

The family was left stranded while the tsunami surged, however, were thankfully saved by a passing car.

“They took nothing, just the clothes on their back,” Ms Goddard said.

The trio managed to get a message out from the New Zealand High Commission to say they were alive.

In this satellite image taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite, and released by the agency, shows an undersea volcano eruption at the Pacific nation of Tonga Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. An undersea volcano erupted in spectacular fashion near the Pacific nation of Tonga on Saturday, sending large waves crashing across the shore and people rushing to higher ground. (Japan Meteorology Agency via AP)
An underwater volcano erupted north of Tonga, which caused the tsunami. (AP)

An underwater volcano erupted 65km north of the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa at 4.10pm on Saturday afternoon ADST, spurting ash 20km high.

The eruption sparked tsunami warnings around the Pacific, with images from Tonga showing a surge of waves.

The impact cut off communications and it’s impossible to know how much further the damage has spread.

The United Nations says a distress signal has been detected in a low-lying isolated group of islands - in particular Fonoi and Mango Islands.
Concerns are high for low-lying islands near Tonga. (9News)

The United Nations said a distress signal has been detected in a low-lying isolated group of islands, in particular Fonoi and Mango Islands.

Just 105 people live on the islands.

Volcanic ash covers roof tops and vegetation in an area of Tonga.
Volcanic ash covers roof tops and vegetation in an area of Tonga. (Vanessa Parker/NZDF via AP)

Experts across the globe are also closely monitoring a sulphur dioxide cloud moving across the Pacific towards the Australian coast.

Aid is now being mobilised with the HMAS Adelaide on its way to Brisbane to collect extra supplies before heading to Tonga.

Among the aid is equipment supplied by Telstra to be taken to help boost Tonga’s communications capabilities before a broken undersea cable can be repaired.

In this photo provided by the New Zealand Defence Force, an Orion aircraft is prepared at a base in Auckland before flying to assist the Tonga Government after the eruption of an undersea volcano. (AP)
An Orion plane flies over Tonga where volcanic ash covers roof tops and vegetation.
An Orion plane flies over Tonga where volcanic ash covers roof tops and vegetation. (Vanessa Parker/NZDF via AP)

A New Zealand C130 loaded with supplies will fly to Tonga once the airport is cleared for a landing.

Two Kiwi naval ships are also heading there with critical supplies while UNICEF and AusAid have prepared care packages ready to go.

Volcano eruption near Tonga looper

Blast so big it was seen from space



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