The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is now checking on the situation of close to 800 Filipinos in Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji after the eruption of an underwater volcano on Saturday, Jan. 15.
In a statement on Sunday, Jan. 16, the DFA said the Philippine Embassy in Wellington “is closely following developments in Tonga, Samoa and Fiji” after the underwater volcano eruptions, which triggered tsunamis and strong wave alerts across the Pacific.
The Embassy reported residents moving to higher ground and disruptions to communication systems as tsunami waves reached Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji.
Tsunami advisories were also issued for the coastal areas of New Zealand, Japan, and the US western states, it added.
“Coordination efforts with local authorities and community leaders are ongoing to ascertain the situation on the ground and the condition of the Filipinos in Tonga (87), Samoa (300), and Fiji (400),” the Foreign Affairs department said.
According to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, authorities have not received any reports of deaths or injuries in Tonga related to the eruption as of Sunday, Jan. 16 as telephone and internet links from the affected areas were severely damaged.
The eruption of the underwater volcano off Tonga erupted on Saturday, causing ash and gas steam 20 kilometers into the air and triggering tsunami on Tongatapu, where Tonga’s capital is located. Phone and internet lines went down on Saturday night.