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Humanitarian aid begins to arrive in the Tonga Islands

(Reuters) – The first planes carrying humanitarian aid to the Tonga islands – which were hit by a tsunami triggered by a volcanic eruption last weekend – landed on Thursday, as contacts with the archipelago partially restored on Wednesday evening.

A New Zealand C-130 has landed at Fua Amoto International Airport, according to a defense spokesperson, after removing volcanic ash that covered the runways.

ABC Television reported that an Australian military plane landed shortly after.

“The plane is carrying humanitarian aid and basic necessities, including water tankers, temporary shelters, generators, hygiene equipment and communications equipment,” the minister said.

Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton said the military aircraft sent to the Tonga Islands were carrying water tanks, shelters and materials to clean up volcanic ash. A second plane will be sent from Australia during the day.

The deliveries will be contactless to prevent any spread of the coronavirus outbreak as there are no coronavirus cases in Tonga.

Telephone recovery began on Wednesday. However, the company responsible for repairing the undersea cable damaged during the disaster said the archipelago could go a month or more without an internet connection.

(Reporting by Praveen Menon, Kirsty Needham and Michelle Nichols, by Robert Percel, French version by Camille Raynaud)

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