— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on January 17, 2022, Monday.
Due to heavy smoke/ash coverage and network disconnection, it is difficult to estimate Tonga's economic losses from the eruption. Tonga is a small island country whose economy relies on agriculture, fishing and tourism. All of these industries will be negatively impacted by the eruption and tsunami, especially the commercial areas along the coast.
Homes, vehicles, and infrastructure were also damaged. Those damages can be exacerbated because aiding efforts are still in dark due to disconnection. A Tongan athlete, the flag bearer who has drawn widespread attention at the Tokyo Olympics, pointed out in an update on social media that Tonga may face drinking water challenges in the coming days and that he is also out of touch with his father.
"In Tonga, we get our drinking waters rainwater. So basically water lands on the lands on your roof, and then goes down into a rainwater tank. And if your roof is covered in ash, you know, you can't drink that water because it's toxic. So we're thinking that there's going to be a lot of that there'll be water issues."
"We were just hoping we're praying that there isn't that, you know, there isn't loss of life or injury from this tsunami. What we do know is that there will be a heavy financial toll on the country. Probably if we're going by cyclones or other natural big natural events, we're talking 10s hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage, but we don't know this yet."
In addition to Tonga, countries along the Pacific coast have also been widely affected. Fiji, Japan, New Zealand, and many other countries issued tsunami warnings after the eruption.
Many of these warnings have been lifted, but the eruption caused flooding across portions of coastal Alaska and California in the United States. Floods from the tidal waves were also reported in Chile. When warnings were announced, many flights were canceled and a large number of residents were evacuated. In Japan, some ships have been reportedly damaged and fishing has also been disrupted. All of these will translate into economic losses. Tango is a less developed country with a GDP of about 500 million USD. It has been receiving aid from international organizations such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
Tonga needs the international society to help recover too. New Zealand has announced an initial support package of $NZ500,000 to Tonga. China, Australia also promised to provide help. Tango has been suffering from climate change and the rise of sea levels.
Large-scale volcanic eruptions will also impact regional climate. Volcanic ash may eventually drift to other countries such as Australia. We will keep watching more ripple effects from this eruption.