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Plans for relief drive for Tonga expected to be released this week

Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga
Am Samoa officials send messages of condolence to Tonga

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga has sent a message of condolence to Tonga’s Royal Family, in the aftermath of a tsunami that claimed the lives of three people and caused mass devastation in the Island Kingdom, while ASG plans to launch relief efforts this week to aid Tonga.

And nations around the world have coordinated efforts to bring much needed aid — especially fresh water — to Tonga.

The tsunami in Tonga, on Jan. 15 (Jan. 14 in American Samoa), was the result of an undersea volcanic eruption, causing wide spread damage to property especially on the country’s three smaller islands.

Lemanu, in a Jan. 19 letter in the Tongan language and addressed to King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau’u noted that it’s “with deepest sadness to learn of the disaster that has shaken” Tonga.

“It pains us to see Tonga a nation we admire, suffer under the terrible weight of this tragedy. I wish to convey our heartfelt sympathy to the people of Tonga for the loss of lives, the displacement of families, the widespread damages to property and infrastructure, and the excruciating pain that ensues,” the governor wrote, according to the English translation of the letter, released by the Governor’s Office, along with the letter in the Tongan language.

Lemanu points out that images on television and in the newspapers “show a resourceful people coping with the unknown.”

“These are incomparable times that have tested the people of Tonga. However, we know the people of Tonga  to be resilient, determined, and united together,” he said. “In this painful tragedy that has befallen the Kingdom of Tonga, American Samoa stands by your side in solidarity.”

On behalf of Lt. Gov. Talauega E. V. Ale “and our families, and on behalf of the people of American Samoa, our thoughts and prayers are with you; and we send our deepest condolences to the grieving families of the victims and all those affected by this calamity,” Lemanu said.

In conclusion, the governor said: “I pray that God’s grace and wisdom will empower and strengthen you as you continue to lead the people of Tonga through these difficult times.”

Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata had already released a statement of condolence for the people of Tonga, saying that the “people of the Kingdom of Tonga are in our thoughts and most importantly in our prayers during this sad time.” (See Samoa News edition Jan. 18 for more information.)

The Governor’s Office said in a statement over the weekend that several cabinet leaders met last week Friday with the Governor’s Chief of Staff, Tuimavave Tauapa’i Laupola to discuss plans to provide humanitarian support to Tonga.

It says that activities and events that will allow the general public to donate will be finalized in a meeting this week. And the expected kickoff date for the Tonga support initiative is Wednesday, Jan. 26. The Governor’s Office will release more details soon.

The Associated Press reports over the weekend that planes from countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Japan, had landed on the main island of Tongatabu with much needed aid - including much needed fresh water - for the Tongan people. And ships from the U.K and the U.S, including the USS Sampson that stopped briefly in the territory, are on their way to Tonga.