New pictures have emerged from Tonga, revealing the damage wreaked by tsunami waves triggered by an undersea volcano.
They show the Pacific islands blanketed in a layer of volcanic ash, while in coastal areas the waves have torn down trees and ripped buildings apart.
Saturday’s tsunami left at least three dead – including a British national – and crippled communications.
International phone links are said to have been restored but a severed undersea cable may take weeks to fix.
That means Tonga remains largely cut off from the outside world, with little known about the scale of destruction.
But the new images, released by Tonga’s consulate in the EU, show cars, roads and buildings in the capital Nuku’alofa coated in a film of ash. The dust has hampered relief planes from landing and delivering much-needed food and drinking water.
The pictures also show the aftermath of the tsunami waves, described by Tonga’s government as “an unprecedented disaster”, on coastal areas on the island. Debris is scattered across the shoreline, after waves more than a meter tall struck on Tonga.
Aerial images taken by the New Zealand Air Force, meanwhile, indicate that several villages have been wiped out on islands that have yet to be reached.
Ash hampers rescue effort
Teams have been working around the clock to get vital supplies to the region and repair the damaged undersea cable.
Efforts to clear thick ash from Tonga’s main airport runway finished on Wednesday, AFP news agency reports, after rescue teams and hundreds of volunteers desperately worked to clear dust from the tarmac using wheelbarrows and shovels.
Officials hoped to have emergency aid flights landing soon.
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