No Filipinos have been reported killed or hurt in the eruption of an underwater volcano in Tonga, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday, Jan. 19.
“As of 18 January, the Philippine Embassy in Wellington has received no reports of casualties or injuries in the Filipino community in Tonga and Samoa,” the DFA said.
It was disclosed that the Association of Filipinos in Tonga Inc. reached out to the Philippine Embassy in Wellington via email informing the latter that every Filipino citizen in the Kingdom of Tonga has been accounted for and that there are currently no casualties.
Internet and international calls are still currently unavailable, they said.
With this, the Association of Filipinos in Tonga Inc. has requested the Philippine Embassy in Wellington to let their families know that Filipinos there are safe.
The Philippine Embassy in Wellington, however, continues to exhaust efforts to contact Filipinos in Tonga primarily through the use of its emergency satellite phone as it may take two weeks before the communication system in Tonga to be fully restored.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs, through the Philippine Embassy in Wellington, will continue to closely monitor the situation in Tonga, to ensure the continued safety of our kababayans,” it said.
The eruption of the underwater volcano off Tonga occurred on Saturday, Jan. 15, spewing ash and gas steams 20 kilometers into the air and triggering a tsunami on Tongatapu, where Tonga’s capital is located. Phone and internet lines have been down since Saturday night.
According to the DFA, there are currently close to 800 Filipinos in the Pacific Islands.