The ETC in the Pacific was activated in 2016 under the structure of the Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) to support telecommunications preparedness in the region. The ETC in the Pacific is currently supporting the response to the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha-apai underwater volcano and the subsequent tsunami which hit Tonga on 15 January 2022.
Replacement cable is estimated to reach Tonga by late September to repair the domestic section of undersea communications fibre cable, damaged during the January volcanic eruption. Until the cable is repaired, access to communications on the outer islands of Ha’apai and Vava’u remains severely limited.
The ETC in the Pacific is working with the Government of Luxembourg, WFP FITTEST, and local satellite service providers to roll out the best solutions to provide connectivity on the outer islands of Ha’apai and Vava’u.
A technical specialist has been identified to deploy to Tonga to support ETC coordination, install a HF & VHF radio network across six islands, support installation of connectivity solutions in the outer islands, as well as to build the technical capacity of national responders on the ground.
Both Tonga and Fiji experienced a minor earth tremor on a scale of 3.6 to 3.9 on 13 May. The impact was felt in Fiji, 120 kilometres from the epicentre. The situation is being closely monitored.
The state of emergency as it relates to the event of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai undersea volcano eruption and subsequent tsunami on 15 January has now ended, and the operation is moving from the response to the recovery phase. The distribution of relief items is ongoing in the Ha’apai island group.
The state of emergency as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended in Tonga until 6 June, due to the continued rise in infection rates. The Ha’apai island group—which was heavily impacted by the volcanic eruption and tsunami—is under lockdown to contain the spread of the virus following an outbreak in April. The lockdown continues to impact on the deployment of communications equipment to Ha’apai.