NZ Hercules aircraft sets off for Tonga with aid supplies

Source: 1News

The New Zealand Defence Force's Hercules aircraft has left for Tonga, taking urgent aid supplies including water containers, temporary shelters and generators.

NZ Defence Force personnel loading aid (file picture).

The Hercules' departure was delayed this week after ash on Nuku’alofa airport's runway prevented landing.

Images from Tonga have shown the damage to homes after a tsunami was triggered from Saturday’s large eruption of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai.

New Zealand also sent two naval ships on Tuesday carrying supplies and survey equipment, with one expected to arrive later today.

Defence Minister Peeni Henare said the aid delivery from the Hercules would be contactless, with the aircraft expected to be on the ground for only 90 minutes.

It would be bringing in water containers, kits for temporary shelters, generators, hygiene and family kits, and communication equipment.

The Defence Force is also preparing to send the ship HMNZS Canterbury, with two helicopters on board.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said communication with Tonga was still limited.

"Some 2G connectivity has been restored for telecommunications provider Digicel customers. However, demand is exceeding capacity and connection inconsistent."

She said work was underway to add more capacity.