‘Finally got through’ - Tongans in NZ reconnect with loved ones

Many Tongans living in New Zealand and abroad have spent the night reconnecting with loved ones in the Kingdom after a limited phone service was established late on Thursday evening.

A volcanic eruption and deadly tsunami on Saturday cut off Tonga's lines of communication from the rest of the world.

Digicel was able to get 2G connectivity back up via a satellite link but it’s patchy in places and has been overwhelmed with traffic overnight.

Social media was ablaze with posts about finally being able to speak to family.

“I’m just speaking to my brother and mother in Pelehake now!” read one post.

“For those who haven’t gotten through keep trying. I have just spoken to my sister. Connection may be bad but you can still hear them. Keep the faith and keep trying!” read another.

Many weren’t able to connect as the limited service was overwhelmed. “I can’t sleep till my call gets through. Just one call and I will be fine,” wrote one person.

It appears that the service is just in Tongatapu as attempts to connect to Vava’u failed.

“I called a few times and finally got through to my Aunty! Keep trying everyone. Can’t wait to get through to my father in Vava’u though”.

Digicel Regional CEO Shally Jannif said Digicel Tonga will be giving out free SIMs to people from today.

“We know its important to keep people connected in difficult times like this as family and friends overseas are desperate to connect with relatives in Tonga,” he said.

The underwater cable which provides nearly all of Tonga’s phone and internet service is not expected to be repaired for at least a month.

There are two breaks in the cable, one of which is close to the volcano.