Multiple flights have been cancelled or diverted to Australia following the impact of the tsunami in Tonga, as the prime minister pledged support to the Pacific island nation.
The tsunami, which was sparked by an underwater volcano eruption on Saturday, led to volcanic ash being strewn into the air and causing flight delays.
An Aircalin flight from Narita in Japan to La Tontouta in New Caledonia was diverted to Brisbane overnight due to the volcanic disruption.
All passengers and crew from the flight spent the night in quarantine hotels, with a new flight time yet to be set.
The volcanic cloud also led to delays for flights to Townsville from both Brisbane and Sydney.
Two Fiji Airways flights from Brisbane to Nadi were also cancelled on Monday.
Fiji Airways and Fiji Link said they will continue to operate flights to and from Australia, with some reflecting new departure times.
Both airlines have said they will rebook customers whose flights have been cancelled or delayed due to the ash clouds caused by the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption.
Earlier this morning an Australian P-8 plane arrived in Tonga to assess the damage from the volcanic eruption and tsunami.
The flight arrived just after 9am AEDT, and will determine how critical infrastructure has fared following the disaster.
However, Tonga’s strict quarantine measures designed to keep COVID-19 out of the country may complicate relief efforts.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Tonga had not requested an Australian medical assistance team following the natural disaster.
She said Tonga’s strict border measures implemented due to COVID could make it more difficult for international assistance to get on the ground.
“It is a COVID-free country as far as I’m aware and that does complicate the movement of people as well,” Senator Payne told reporters on Monday.
“If we do need to send a (medical assistance) team to Tonga for any reason, I have no doubt there would be the same level of positive volunteering I have seen right throughout COVID as well.”
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