Tongans in NZ desperate to connect with loved ones

Source: 1News

Tongans in New Zealand have spent a sleepless night, desperate for news of loved ones as communications were cut off following Saturday’s tsunami-causing eruption of an underwater volcano in Tonga.

Many have turned to faith and prayer at a time when there is no available information.

At a press conference on Sunday, Jacinda Ardern said communication with Tonga remains very limited.

"Telecommunication authorities are working urgently to restore communication," she said.

She said the main undersea communications cable has been impacted, likely due to the loss of power.

In Tonga, some attended church on Sunday, prayers were also said over local radio.

Back in New Zealand, family and friends are looking for answers over loved ones.

"I don't know, it's just really really sad, it's really sad, to not know if they're okay," Melenaite Tohi told 1News.

Tohi was watching a livestream on Saturday of what was supposed to be a joyful family reunion. But then it cut out and she hasn't been able to locate her family since.

"I think, I really do think they're okay and they will be okay, just based on the faith that we do have in God - that he's working over them, looking after them," she said.

At Sunday's press conference, Ardern said as yet "there are no official reports of injuries or deaths in Tonga".

The prime minister says a New Zealand Defence Force surveillance flight is ready to deploy as soon as atmospheric conditions allow, and a naval vessel has also been put on standby to assist if needed. Agencies are working on further air and sea options.

The government announced a $500,000 donation as "a starting figure".