Suva, Jan 22 (IANS) Fifty-one Fijian military personnel flew out to Australia’s Brisbane on Saturday for a co-deployment mission to Tonga which was hit by the massive volcanic eruptions and a subsequent tsunami last weekend.
Fijian military Commander Major-General Ro Jone Kalouniwai said on Saturday that the military personnel, consisting of engineers, medics and other specialists, will team up with the Australian soldiers to carry out rehabilitation and further assessment in Tonga, reports Xinhua news agency.
As per the initial planning process, the Fijian soldiers are expected to be on the ground, putting the hard yards, in a span of 10 days.
However, this is subject to change depending on the extent of rehabilitation required in the island nation, he added.
The commander stressed that the majority of troops deployed are engineers and plant operators, considering the massive infrastructure damage in most parts of Tonga.
The military personnel have completed their pre-departure isolation period in their respective bubble and have tested Covid-19 negative before departure.
They were also vaccinated with a booster shot.
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, about 65 km north of Tongan capital city of Nuku’alofa, is part of the highly active Tonga-Kermadec Islands volcanic arc, a sub-duction zone extending from New Zealand north-northeast to Fiji.
Over the past decades, the volcano has erupted several times.
The eruptions and tsunami on January 14-15 have caused three deaths and multiple injures, which are likely to rise in the days to come.