Tokyo [Japan], January 20 (ANI/Sputnik): Japan is sending transport military aircraft with humanitarian aid to Oceania's Tonga that suffered from a major volcanic eruption, and will dispatch a tank-borne ship with volcanic ash clearing equipment, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said on Thursday.
"We intend to render maximum possible support to affected residents of Tonga by engaging our self-defense forces, which accumulated vast experience in disaster management both at home and abroad," Kishi said in a briefing.
The transport aircraft of Japanese Air Self-Defense Force is expected to depart on Thursday, carrying drinking water and other humanitarian aid, as well as six professionals in natural disaster management.
A landing ship is expected to follow, bringing to Tonga around 300 military personnel for participating in emergency response activities, volcanic ash clearing equipment, and two helicopters.
On Wednesday, the Japanese government pledged to allocate more than $1 million of financial aid to Tonga and provide food assistance.
A powerful underwater volcanic eruption occurred on Saturday beneath the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai islands, 40 miles north of the capital Nuku'alofa. The eruption, considered the world's strongest in the past 30 years, caused a severe tsunami and covered the islands with a thick layer of volcanic ash, and resulted in the death of at least three people.
The largest Tongan island of Tongatapu has declared a state of emergency on its western coast. (ANI/Sputnik)