5 Oct 2009

Water and shelter key needs of Tonga's tsunami survivors

2:20 pm on 5 October 2009

The Red Cross in Tonga says the biggest needs of survivors of last week's tsunami are water and shelter, after more than 300 people were left homeless on the island of Niuatoputapu.

About 400 people have been affected by the disaster, with 80 households destroyed and 56 that could be repaired.

The organisation's Secretary General Sione Taumoefolau says the Red Cross has received almost 50 tents from New Zealand and 30 from within Tonga but it requires another 100 tents.

He says the island's water systems were damaged beyond repair and the New Zealand Red Cross has offered to deliver a water purification machine to generate sufficient drinking water.

"The water changes from sea water to drinking water. That's the kind of machine that we will be receiving from New Zealand Red Cross either today, tomorrow or the day after. Then they can send it to the field. The other issue that we're concerned about with Red Cross there is the transportation, cause only a few vehicles can drive around."

Sione Taumoefolau says a team will be deployed in Niuatoputapu by the end of the week to conduct a final assessment of the damage.