Pope Francis prays for tsunami-hit Tonga


Pope Francis expresses his spiritual closeness to the people of the Pacific island nation of Tonga, following the eruption the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano which unleashed a destructive tsunami.

By Vatican News staff writer

During the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to the inhabitants of the Tonga Islands, who have been hit by a devastating tsunami set off by the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano.

Prayers and closeness

The Holy Father expressed his closeness to the people of the Pacific nation pleading with God to relieve their suffering. He then called on everyone to join in prayer for these brothers and sisters.

“My thoughts go out to the peoples of the Tonga Islands who in recent days were affected by the eruption of an underwater volcano, which caused considerable material damage. I am spiritually close to all those who are sorely-tried, and I implore from God relief in their suffering. I invite everyone to join me in prayer for these our brothers and sisters.”

Satellite imagery shows the extent of the damage on Tonga

Heavy damage

The massive underwater eruption started on 15 January, causing tsunami waves which reached as far away as the American coasts. 

Three deaths have been reported so far, and and a large number of houses have been damaged or detroyed by the tsunami.

Many parts of Tonga, home to 105,000 people, are covered by a thick layer of ash, and are experiencing a near-total blackout of power and communications.

Local authorities have already reported some water sources being contaminated by ash, which can contain heavy metals like arsenic and cadmium.



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