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Elon Musk helping restore Tongan internet; virus outbreak growing

Togna Volcano
Posted at 9:35 AM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 11:35:29-05

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Entrepreneur Elon Musk is trying to help reconnect Tonga to the internet after a volcanic eruption and tsunami cut off the South Pacific nation more than three weeks ago, according to officials, while repairs on an undersea cable are proving more difficult than first thought.

The tsunami severed the sole fiber-optic cable that connects Tonga to the rest of the world, and most people there remain without reliable connections.

A top Fijian official tweeted that a team from Musk's SpaceX company was in Fiji establishing a station that would help reconnect Tonga through SpaceX satellites.

Three of Tonga's smaller islands suffered severe damage from 49 feet-high waves last month after an undersea volcano erupted near the Pacific archipelago nation.

The tsunami waves also tainted drinking water and left dozens homeless.

The eruption also caused 6,000 barrels to spill into the Pacific Ocean from an Italian-flagged ship while it unloaded oil in Peru, the Associated Press reported.

Three people also died due to the tsunami, including the death of a 65-year-old female from Mango Island, a 49-year-old male from Nomuka Island, and a British woman who was in the country at the time of the eruption.