The Australian Defence Force has sent a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon Aircraft to Tonga following the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano on 15 January.
The Poseidon has been sent to conduct an assessment of damage to critical infrastructure, such as roads, ports and power lines, throughout the Polynesian country to help determine the next step in the response effort.
Watch the video below to see the RAAF prepare its Poseidon for response efforts, before taking off for Tonga.
The ADF said the move forms part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s coordinated mission to support the government of Tonga, following the eruption.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said the Royal Australian Air Force was currently “undertaking surveillance activity over the affected area”.
It appears the Poseidon could have been joined by a C-17 Globemaster, after both were spotted taking off from RAAF Base Amberley, headed for Tonga, earlier this morning.
Yes you’re right that’s a C-17! Thanks pic.twitter.com/rGCauMWfwX
— Michael Rennie (@mf_rennie) January 16, 2022
Earlier rescue plans appear to have stunted due to excessive cloud coverage over the Pacific Islands, which also impacted a number of commercial services between Australia and Fiji.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand Defence Force have also confirmed that an Orion aircraft left Auckland on Monday morning to assist with an initial impact assessment of the area and low-lying islands.