Red Cross teams on the ground have confirmed widespread stagnant pools of salt water that were dumped by the tsunami and communities are covered with a thick layer of volcanic ash, polluting the clean drinking water sources of tens of thousands of people.
"After being cut off from the world, we have successfully contacted Tonga Red Cross for the first time, who report that all their staff and volunteers are safe and working hard, providing relief, including shelter and drinking water. Tonga Red Cross confirms emergency team members have been sent alongside authorities to islands including Mango, Fonoifua and Namuka Islands, where homes have been completely wiped out," Katie Greenwood, the Pacific Head of Delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), in a press release on Wednesday.
“Red Cross teams are urgently delivering drinking water and relief kits for people who have lost everything. It is heartbreaking and devastating for these remote island communities. Securing access to safe drinking water is a critical immediate priority as we work with our partners and the Australian and New Zealand governments to get relief supplies such as mobile water treatment facilities into Tonga," she stated.
Tonga Red Cross emergency teams are providing people with clean water, tarpaulins, shelter tool kits, kitchen sets and other essential relief.
IFRC has mobilised its regional network and partnerships with governments to send relief supplies by sea in the coming days and as part of airlifts once Tonga’s ash-covered international airport is open.