Mental health issue remains challenge after last year's volcanic eruption: Tongan PM

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SUVA, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Mental health issue remains a challenge in Tonga after last year's devastating Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcanic eruption, which caused three deaths and extensive damage to the island nation, said a Tongan leader.

According to Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) on Monday, Tongan Prime Minister Hu'akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni confirmed to FBC News that the issue will take time as they continue to rebuild after a year.

"We were surprised because of the enormity of the eruption, and yet, you know, we lost only a few lives. But as I say, at the same time a lot of people are now physically ok but mentally, it's something that we try to address. We may be able to build houses now but addressing mental health issues will take a little bit longer than that," he said.

The prime minister said that they continue to rebuild slowly as they try to get their lives back on track.

On Sunday, Tonga organized an exhibition and Thanksgiving service to mark the anniversary of the violent eruption, which took place on Jan. 15, 2022 and also triggered a tsunami.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, about 65 km north of Tongan capital Nuku'alofa, is part of the highly active Tonga-Kermadec Islands volcanic arc, a subduction zone extending from New Zealand north-northeast to Fiji. Over the past decades, the volcano has erupted several times.

As Tonga's close friend, China sent two military aircraft and navy ships to deliver disaster relief supplies to the South Pacific island nation, which has a population of more than 100,000. Enditem

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