China to send food, protective equipment to tsunami-hit Tonga: FM
Published: Jan 19, 2022 12:01 AM
A satellite image shows the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha?apai volcano located 40 miles north of Tonga's main island on January 15. Photo: CFP

A satellite image shows the volcano eruption in Tonga on January 15. Photo: CFP

China will send emergency supplies to tsunami-stricken Tonga as soon as possible once the airport resumes operation, and it will support Tongans through these difficult times, said China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.

"China is very concerned about the volcanic eruption in Tonga and feels for the actual difficulties of the Tongan people," said Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, at Tuesday's regular press briefing. 

At the request of Tonga, Zhao noted that China will send some emergency supplies to Tonga once flying conditions permit. The emergency supplies will include fresh drinking water, food, and protective equipment as well as rescue devices. 

He stressed that the Chinese government has attached great importance to the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions in Tonga, after a tsunami triggered by a volcanic eruption caused catastrophic damage to the South Pacific country.

The Chinese Embassy in Tonga issued a safety alert on the volcano and tsunami on Friday and immediately activated the emergency response mechanism after the eruption, said Zhao.

According to the preliminary determinations of the embassy, all local Chinese citizens are safe, the Consular Affairs Department of the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

The Embassy helped a resident in South China's Guangdong Province get in touch with her husband after they lost contact amid Tonga's nationwide communication interruption, he said. 

It also informed Liaocheng University in East China's Shandong Province of the safety of three teachers from the university who are currently in Tonga, by calling the school via satellite phones. 

The death toll from the volcanic eruption in Tonga has risen to three people, said the Tongan government in a statement on Tuesday, the first official statement since the volcano erupted. All houses on Mango Island were destroyed, it said. 

China will continue to pay close attention to the situation of Chinese citizens in Tonga and provide timely consular protection and assistance to those in need, said Zhao. 

The Red Cross Society of China will provide $100,000 in humanitarian aid to Tonga, China's Foreign Ministry said on Monday. The China International Development Cooperation Agency also noted that China stands ready to offer help in the post-disaster rebuilding.