A key undersea cable that was destroyed in a volcano eruption in Tonga may take at least four weeks to be repaired.
According to New Zealand’s foreign ministry, the cable was severed during a volcanic eruption on Saturday, crippling communications and cutting the Pacific island off from the outside world.
The eruption also caused a tsunami, which left at least three dead – including a British national.
Teams have been working round the clock to get vital supplies to the region.
“US cable company SubCom advises it will take at least four weeks for Tonga’s cable connection to be repaired,”
SubCom, a repair contractor for more than 50,000 km (31,070 miles) of cable in the South Pacific, said it was working with telecommunications company Tonga Cable to mobilise a ship for the cable repairs.
Tonga has been unable to establish external contact since Saturday’s violent eruption severed the country’s only underwater cable in two places.
Scant communication has been established since then, enabled only through a few satellite phones mainly held by foreign embassies in the capital city Nuku’alofa. Many Tongans abroad have since been waiting to hear news from loved ones.
This is not the first time Tonga’s only undersea cable has been damaged. A bout of bad weather in 2019 inflicted unexpected damage on the cable, causing a near total blackout of mobile and internet services for the 100,000 residents in the island nation.