The aftermath of the Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami. Photo: Caritas Tonga

Tonga Volcano Eruption

In 2022, the people of Tonga, who heavily rely on the ocean as a source of food and income, faced the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano eruption, tsunami and ashfall.



This appeal has now closed. Donations made to this appeal helped support immediate relief in the form of food, emergency shelter, access to safe water, hygiene support, essential items such as bedding and nutrition support. 

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The violent underwater volcano eruption on 15 January 2022 triggered tsunamis, destroyed telecommunications and blanketed the Pacific island nation in ash.  

  • 85,000 people - up to 84% of the total population - were affected by the eruption, tsunami and associated volcanic ash (IFRC).  
  • Many communities were forced to buy bottled water as their only water sources were contaminated.
  • There was a steep rise in plastic waste after huge quantities were brought in as part of the humanitarian response.


Caritas Tonga staff unloading supplies. Photo credit: Caritas Tonga.
Caritas Tonga staff unloading supplies. Photo credit: Caritas Tonga.

The volcano eruption and tsunami affected 84 per cent of Tonga's population. Many homes in coastal areas were inundated with seawater and some small islands were completely flooded. Telecommunications were completely cut off for more than one month

Your donations helped the people of Tonga with

  • Clean drinking water 
  • Shelter for families who lost their homes 
  • Psychosocial support for people who were evacuated 
  • Food support for communities whose soil and crops were contaminated by saltwater and toxic ashes. 

Caritas Australia worked in partnership with Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and Caritas Tonga to respond. Caritas Tonga also worked with the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) and Tongan National Youth Council to distribute stock.


The largest recorded explosion since 1883

The violent eruption sent ash, steam and gas up to 20kms into the air and triggered a tsunami measuring up to 1.5m. The tsunami flooded Tongan coastal roads and properties and also impacted Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. It has since been confirmed that it was the world's largest explosion recorded since 1883, dwarfing even nuclear blasts.

The west coast of Tongatapu, the Ha’apai island group and the west coast of ‘Eua sustained significant infrastructural damage and an estimated one inch of ash covered the major populated islands of Tonga, with four to six inches reported in some areas. Many homes in coastal areas were also inundated with seawater and some small islands in the Ha’apai group were completely flooded.

Your donations helped communities with:

Clean water

Psychosocial support

Emergency supplies

Pandemic response