A team from Musk’s SpaceX company was in Fiji establishing a station that would help reconnect to the internet Tonga through SpaceX satellites. Fiji Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum tweeted about the SpaceX work, saying the volcano’s shockwave had “shattered Tonga’s internet connection, adding days of gut-wrenching uncertainty to disaster assessments.”
The tsunami severed the sole fiber-optic cable that connects Tonga to the rest of the world and most people remain without reliable connections.
Three people were confirmed killed in the Jan. 15 eruption of the massive undersea volcano and the resulting tsunami, and several small settlements in outlying islands were wiped out and a thick layer of volcanic ash that blanketed the main island tainted much of the drinking water.
Tonga had avoided the COVID-19 pandemic for more than two years, but it is now in the midst of an outbreak with new infections growing rapidly after the virus was apparently brought in by foreign military crews aboard ships and planes delivering critical aid after the volcanic eruption.
With many displaced people in the aftermath of the eruption, an already fragile health care system and the isolation of the islands, the outbreak is a particular cause for concern, said Katie Greenwood, the head of delegation in the Pacific for the International Red Cross.
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