Japan resumes aid activity for disaster-hit Tonga

Courtesy of Defense Ministry’s Joint Staff
An airport employee checks drinking water unloaded from an Air Self-Defense Force C-130 transport aircraft at Fua’amotu Internatiinal Airport in Tongatapu on Jan. 22.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan has resumed its aid activity for Tonga, a South Pacific island nation hit by undersea volcanic eruption in mid-January, the Defense Ministry said Saturday.

The Air Self-Defense Force has dispatched two C-130 transport aircraft for airlifting relief supplies to Tonga.

But the activity was suspended Tuesday due to novel coronavirus infections among ASDF members engaged in the mission. Replacement personnel were sent Friday to restart the airlift operation as early as possible.

The additional ASDF members transported about 4 tons of canned food and some 2 tons of drinking water, according to the ministry.

COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction tests were conducted on ASDF troops in quarantine, finding two more personnel infected with the virus, the ministry said. A total of six members have tested positive for the virus.

The ministry is considering allowing infected members to rejoin the mission once they show negative test results.