Internet Has Finally Been Restored In Tonga – 5 Weeks After The Catastrophic Volcanic Eruption

On 15 January, a volcanic eruption and tsunami caused massive destruction that killed three people and razed hundreds of homes in Tonga.

What happened right after the destruction was the county being cut off from global reach because the underwater cable had been severed. Temporary satellite services provided only limited communication links.

While some low-grade internet services were set up about a week after the explosion, a fast connection was still not arranged as aid and other supplies began to arrive at the islands.

Satellite view of the eruption of an underwater volcano off Tonga

The 840km (520-mile) undersea cable connecting Tonga to Fiji had been its only source of stable internet.

On Tuesday afternoon, the island’s main telecommunications providers Digicel and TCC confirmed that the internet had been restored to the main islands.

The domestic cables that service the outlying islands still need to be brought back to life.

On social media, the people who suffered the calamity began to share the news of being back online and being able to contact families and friends with much more convenience.

“I’m pretty happy that we are back online,” Tongan Prime Minister Hu’akavemeiliku Siaosi Sovaleni told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“We had some capacity via satellite, but nothing compared to what we’re having right now with the cable being reconnected,” he said.

Tonga's internet finally restored 5 weeks after big eruption | Health,  Medicine and Fitness |

“It was a major task, given the amount of damage, and we thought it would be fixed a week ago.”

The force of the explosion was more powerful than the Hiroshima nuclear bomb drop. It had damaged and broken apart an 80km section of the internet line. Repairing it took 10 days longer than what was estimated.

The Tongan government said 85% of its population was affected by the volcanic eruption, which covered the capital and other areas in a blanket of ash and made fresh drinking water difficult to get.

Prime Minister Hu’akavemeiliku Siaosi Sovaleni said his people were finding it hard to get over the traumatic experience.

“We recognize that even though we might start rebuilding some of the houses like next month or so, the mental side of it will take a bit longer.”

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