China to send food, protective gear to tsunami-hit Tonga (FM)

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A satellite image shows the volcano erupting in Tonga on January 15. Photo: PFC

China will send emergency supplies to tsunami-hit Tonga as soon as possible after the airport resumes operations, and will support Tongans during this difficult time, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

“China is very concerned about the volcanic eruption in Tonga and feels the real hardship of the Tongan people,” Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said at Tuesday’s regular press briefing.

At Tonga’s request, Zhao noted that China will send emergency supplies to Tonga once flight conditions permit. Emergency supplies will include fresh drinking water, food, and protective gear and lifesaving devices.

He stressed that the Chinese government attaches great importance to the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions in Tonga, after a tsunami triggered by a volcanic eruption caused catastrophic damage in the South Pacific country.

The Chinese Embassy in Tonga issued a security alert for the volcano and tsunami on Friday and immediately activated the emergency response mechanism after the eruption, Zhao said.

According to the embassy’s preliminary determinations, all local Chinese citizens are safe, the Foreign Ministry’s Consular Affairs Department said on Tuesday.

The embassy has helped a resident of southern China’s Guangdong province get in touch with her husband after they lost contact following the nationwide communications blackout in Tonga, a- he declared.

He also informed Liaocheng University in east China’s Shandong Province about the safety of three university teachers who are currently in Tonga by calling the school via satellite phones.

The death toll from the volcanic eruption in Tonga stands at three, the Tongan government said in a statement on Tuesday, the first official statement since the volcano erupted. All homes on Mango Island were destroyed, he added.

China will continue to pay close attention to the situation of Chinese citizens in Tonga and provide timely consular protection and assistance to those in need, Zhao said.

The Chinese Red Cross will provide $100,000 in humanitarian aid to Tonga, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Monday. The China International Development Cooperation Agency also noted that China is ready to offer assistance in post-disaster reconstruction.

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