Sat. Aug 13th, 2022

The World Bank has estimated the damage bill from a volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami which devastated much of Tonga a month ago will be more than $ 125 million.

The eye-watering cost of recovery, the equivalent of nearly 20 per cent of Tonga’s GDP, comes as new images from the Australian Defense Force (ADF) show personnel wading through rubble strewn across parts of Atata Island.

Hundreds of Australian soldiers have been helping the Pacific kingdom as part of Operation Tonga Assist 2022.

The World Bank’s impact assessment report found 85 per cent of the country’s population was affected by the unprecedented eruption that coated the archipelago in centimeters of volcanic ash and created waves strong enough to flatten islands.

The county’s international underwater fiber optic cable is still out of action and communications within Tonga remain strained, after the eruption broke the connection in two places.

A dirty soft toy is in the foreground with soldiers walking among debris in the background.
About 300 homes were lost and more than 1,500 people are displaced.(Supplied: Australia Defense Force, Robert Whitmore)

The report found that while the volcanic ash fall and tsunami caused widespread devastation, the impact of each differed depending on the sector, the World Bank’s liaison officer Natalie Latu told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program.

“For instance in the agriculture sector, the volcanic impact was larger than the tsunami impact,” Ms Latu said.

“Damage attributed to the volcanic impact was 80 per cent, whereas damage attributed to the tsunami was 20 per cent.”

Soldiers walk through the water pulling a rubber boat.
The World Bank’s report findings will help direct Tonga’s recovery efforts.(Supplied: Australia Defense Force, Jake Badior)

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