Sometimes it is necessary to dial their number more than ten times before finally hearing their voice. Chopped. Deaf. Away. On January 15, a violent eruption of the Hanga Tonga-Hanga Hapai volcano triggered a tsunami in the Tonga Islands, damaging the submarine cable connecting the Polynesian archipelago to other parts of the world, and instantly disrupted all telephone communications and the Internet. After five days of complete silence, operator Digisel was able to partially restore its telephone network. After that, the relationships remain weak and unstable, but they allow more and more Tongans to witness the drama they have experienced.
All their stories begin with the terrifying sound of explosions. “The noise was getting louder and louder, making us half deaf. Says journalist Marion Kupp. We quickly realized that something serious was happening and told us to run and seek refuge. ⁇ Outside, rolls are already forming in the sea, which quickly changes its shape. A young woman living in a seaside village a few kilometers from the capital, Nuku’alofa, jumps in a car with her family to escape from the coast as quickly as possible. Like her, an entire country is moving inward into a huge traffic jam.
Polluted water, crops destroyed
“It simply came to our notice then. Not water, but ashes and pebbles. It was apocalyptic. We could not see anything through our windshield. ” Says a former police officer, Thuluthulu Mafuolotole. He finds refuge in his mother-in-law with his wife, son, relatives, nieces and nephews. There, without electricity, without a telephone, he clings like a lifeline to the 90FM radio that never stops broadcasting. “This is the only information that has reached us. Fortunately, they were there. They were the ones who immediately issued a tsunami alert.” At the beach, not everyone has time to run away. Some had no choice but to climb a tree to escape the waves, which reached a height of 15 meters. Surprisingly, there were only three deaths.
“We did not immediately realize the extent of the damage. It was only two days later that I decided to go home. Even the animals, everything was wrapped in a thick blanket of ash. After all, the landscape is upside down: electric poles on the ground, uprooted coconut trees, houses on the wrong side of the road. After that, we spend time cleaning. Marion Kuppu, who was paralyzed by the idea of breathing this gray rain that never rained and did not dare to go out, testified again after lying in the groom’s house for more than twenty – four hours.
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