The death toll from Tonga’s volcanic eruption has risen to three as local authorities work to restore order on the island nation.
The Tongan Government issued its first official statement overnight, calling the event an “unprecedented disaster” and confirming the deaths of three people.
One British national has died, along with a 65-year-old woman from Mango Island and a 49-year-old man from Nomuka Island, the statement confirmed.
“The search and rescue operation began immediately on Sunday morning…of the two reported missing, one has been found alive and the other, a British national was unfortunately the first fatality,” the statement read.
The number of injured remains unconfirmed by the Government at this stage.
It said the eruption had damaged submarine cables, creating communication outages and leaving many residents homeless.
All homes on Mango Island have been destroyed, with just two houses remaining on Fonoifua Island. There is also “extensive damage” to Nomuka Island, the Government said.
Local emergency teams have been deployed to Mango, Donoifua and Nomuka islands, where evacuations are already underway.
Local people are being urged to only drink bottled water, with volcanic ash affecting the local water supply.
“Efforts have been made to ensure the continuity of the supply of safe drinking water,” the Government said.