Only a few homes left on three of Tonga’s smaller islands as scale of tsunami damage revealed

The devastation wrought by a huge tsunami. Credit: Consulate of the Kingdom of Tonga

Most of the houses on three of Tonga's smaller islands are said to have been destroyed following a devastating volcanic eruption which left three people dead.

Despite communications being down, a ship managed to reach the outlying islands of Nomuka, Mango and Fonoifua to assess the infrastructural damage on Wednesday.

All houses appear to have been destroyed on the island of Mango and only two houses remain on Fonoifua island, with extensive damage reported on Nomuka.

The Consulate of the Kingdom of Tonga released pictures showing the devastation in the capital of Tonga - Nuku'alofa.

“Most of the structures and dwellings on those islands have been completely destroyed,” Katie Greenwood, the head of delegation in the Pacific for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

"They have all suffered devastating consequences as an effect of these incoming waves,” she said as she described the damage done to the few homes left standing after being hit by 15m high waves.

UN humanitarian officials estimate that about 84,000 people- more than 80% of Tonga’s population - have been impacted by the volcano’s eruption.

An overview of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai volcano in Tonga. Credit: AP

Saturday's tsunami resulted in a number of injuries and left at least three dead - including British national Angela Glover, 50, a 65-year-old woman from Mango island and a 49-year-old man from Nomuka Island.

Evacuations are now under way for those still left on the islands , with their most immediate needs being safe water and food.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is helping to organise relief efforts and has particular concerns over the country's water and crop supplies.

On Tuesday, ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers explained why reaching the Pacific nation of Tonga has been so difficult so far

With a severed undersea cable, Tonga remains largely cut off from the outside world, making rescue efforts more difficult.

Complicating matters is the country's concern over the possible spread of Covid-19, which it has effectively kept outside its borders.

The Pacific nation is hoping for “almost contactless disaster relief” as a precaution.

“They really don't want to exchange one disaster for another,” Ms Greenwood added.

Three of Tonga's smaller islands suffered serious damage from tsunami waves. Credit: AP

The volcano coated the main island with a 2cm layer of ash, which rendered the 1.6 miles runway at Fua’amotu International Airport unusable and has delayed deliveries.

But efforts to clear thick ash from Tonga's main airport runway finished on Wednesday, after rescue teams and volunteers worked to remove dust from the tarmac using wheelbarrows and shovels.

New Zealand is sending two navy ships and committed an initial one million New Zealand dollars (£500,000) towards recovery efforts. Adding to aid efforts, a Royal Australian Navy ship has gone to Brisbane, in the east of the country, to prepare for humanitarian support if requested.

China said on Tuesday that it is preparing to send drinking water, food, personal protective equipment and other supplies as soon as flights resume.

Officials hoped to have emergency aid flights landing shortly.