The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) stands ready to respond to the needs in Tonga as more details become known about the damage caused by the January 15, 2022, undersea volcanic eruption and tsunami.
While communication remains limited due to damage caused to the undersea communication cable, the Tongan government has issued its first official update, describing the situation as an “unprecedented disaster.” To date, there are three confirmed fatalities, and a number of injuries have also been reported. Some of the smaller islands have suffered the worst damage, including Mango Island, where all the houses have been destroyed. Only two houses remain on Fonoifua Island, and there has also been extensive damage on Nomuka Island.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to all those in Tonga impacted by this event,” South Pacific Division ADRA regional director Greg Young said. “ADRA is monitoring the situation closely. We have established a virtual Emergency Response Team ready to support the Tongan people.”
Flooding has damaged homes, churches, and other public infrastructure. Some Adventist Church buildings have been impacted, including the Tonga Mission headquarters, located in the foreshore area of the capital, Nukuʻalofa, on the main island of Tongatapu.
“I’ve received word overnight that the Tonga Mission office, the mission president’s residence, and another house on the site have suffered significant damage,” Young said. “But we are thankful to God that no lives have been lost and the mission president and his family are safe.”
Across the South Pacific, Adventist members anxiously awaited family and friends’ news following the eruption. Communication with Tonga remains limited due to damage caused to the main undersea communication cable.
“My heart and prayers go out to my people in Tonga,” Trans-Pacific Union Mission president Maveni Kaufononga, who is a Tongan, said. “I am trusting in God who is everywhere and so loving. He is the one that is taking care of them better than we can.”
According to January 17 reports, the Tonga Mission office staff evacuated to Beulah Adventist College after the tsunami hit.
Church leaders are encouraging Adventists to continue to pray for the people of Tonga as more details become available.