Leaked New Zealand military photos show scale of damage caused by Tonga volcano eruption

4 months ago 102

Aerial images prepared by the New Zealand defence unit for the Tongan authorities person been leaked online and amusement immoderate areas person had “catastrophic” devastation inflicted by the tsunami and volcanic eruption portion others were comparatively unscathed.

The 40 aerial pictures amusement immoderate areas blanketed with ash, with damaged buildings, portion others amusement parts of the state that look unscathed.

They were taken by the New Zealand defence unit during a reconnaissance formation connected Monday and enactment unneurotic successful a study for the Tongan government. The photos were past leaked online. The Guardian has confirmed the provenance of the photos.

After the reconnaissance flight, the New Zealand defence unit shared a fistful of photos with media, astir of them showing defence unit astatine work, alternatively than shots of the islands. The 40 leaked images overgarment a overmuch fuller representation of the harm to the country, and see annotations astir the severity of damage.

An aerial representation  of Fonoifua Island. The NZ defence unit  described the harm  determination   arsenic  ‘extensive with each  but the largest buildings destroyed oregon  severely damaged’.
Fonoifua Island. The NZ defence unit described the harm determination arsenic ‘extensive with each but the largest buildings destroyed oregon severely damaged’. Photograph: NZ Defence Force

Many areas were assessed arsenic having constricted damage, specified arsenic ash connected gathering roofs, pools of aboveground flooding oregon debris.

But others were judged to person sustained “catastrophic” damage, according to notes connected the images. Atata land was noted to person “a ample fig of buildings missing. Remaining structures astir apt had flood damage. Multiple trees were uprooted, with debris throughout.”

Fonoifua Island was said to person sustained “extensive harm … with each but the largest buildings destroyed oregon severely damaged”.

Mango Island, a distant low-lying land location to 69 people, was assessed arsenic having “catastrophic damage”. A distress motion was detected from Mango Island connected Monday by the UN prompting interest for inhabitants.

“Catastrophic harm was observed with the full colony destroyed. Temporary tarpaulin shelters had been erected connected the island’s higher areas. Debris was observed passim the village,” said the annotated image.

The images besides gave a consciousness of the harm to Tonga’s infrastructure sustained during the tsunami and volcani eruption. The defence unit said determination had been “limited” harm to the Fua’amotu International Airport’s south-eastern runway, but that it was presently “unserviceable” owed to ash covering the runway.

However, the defence unit noted that an cognition to wide ash from the runway was nether way, with vehicles and radical disposable from the air.

“Clearance operations by shovel and wheelbarrow were nether mode connected the SE extremity of the runway. No dense excavation machinery was observed,” a enactment connected the representation said. The defence unit besides noted that airdrome buildings look intact, though determination was a furniture of ash connected the surfaces.

The study noted that Nuku’alofa larboard successful the superior had “limited to mean damage” with immoderate aboveground flooding and roadworthy entree to the wharf obstructed by fallen containers, ash and different debris. The Faleniu state presumption connected Uiha Island was assessed arsenic “serviceable”, arsenic was the Pangai ferry terminal, the wharf astatine Ha’ano and the span betwixt Koulo and Fangale’ounga.

Little has been heard from Tonga since the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano and consequent tsunami connected Saturday, aft the Pacific nation’s main connection cablegram was broken.

It whitethorn beryllium weeks earlier the cablegram tin beryllium repaired, owed to trouble getting the repair vessel from Papua New Guinea to Tonga, and information concerns for the unit of the ship, who would beryllium operating successful waters not acold from the volcano, meaning Tongans astir the satellite may beryllium forced to hold weeks for regular interaction to resume.

On Tuesday, New Zealand’s ministry of overseas affairs and commercialized said determination had been 2 confirmed deaths successful Tonga from the disaster, 1 of which was a British national.

There person been nary authoritative confirmations of casualties from Tongan authorities, but the household of Angela Glover, a British woman surviving successful Tonga who went missing successful the tsunami, reported connected Monday that her assemblage had been found. The 50-year-old, who had been surviving successful Tonga since astir 2015, was swept distant by the tsunami.

The Australian defence unit besides sent a surveillance level connected Monday, to measure harm to captious infrastructure specified arsenic roads, ports and powerfulness lines.

Australia and New Zealand person each pledged $1m successful archetypal assistance to Tonga. New Zealand has dispatched 2 naval ships carrying h2o and different assistance supplies.